Matthew 7:20 - A Godly Man Bears Good Fruit


[Bring immature fruit tree, baby animal as examples of immature things that cannot bear fruit.]

Part of maturity is the fact that you are able to bear fruit. As you enter into manhood, you will be expected to bear fruit, and that fruit will be evaluated for its goodness or badness by the world around you.


Jesus said in Matthew 7:17-19, “…every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (NASB)


We see in vs. 17-19 the moral words “good” and “bad” (lit. “evil”) used to describe trees and fruit. This is a tip-off that Jesus is using figurative language. He is assigning moral goodness and moral badness to the trees and the fruit they produce, because these trees stand as figures for people, and the fruit stands for what people do with their lives: people do things which are morally good or morally bad.

Death is the fruit of godless maturity

o       Romans 6:21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the fruit of those things is death.

o       James 1:15 When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin comes to maturity, it brings forth death.

o       Cultures which glorify death, such as the movies, music groups, and apparel-designers which center around the image of the skull are displaying their fruit for all to see. It is disgusting, rotten fruit. Maturity in sin yields death.

o       Christianity, by contrast starts with death – the death of Jesus on the cross, and dying to ourselves, and grows in resurrection-life John 12:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (cf. Rom 6:22 - But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your fruit, resulting in sanctification, and its outcome is eternal life.)

Good works are the result of godly maturity

o       In Matthew 3:8, John the Baptizer instructed the Jews to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” The parallel passage in Luke explains that the fruit is good works: If you have two coats, give to him who has none; He who has extra food, let him share; Tax-collectors, do your job honestly and fairly; Soldiers, protect your citizenry rather than taking advantage of them. These are good works.

o       However, God is not merely after good works in and of themselves, He is after good people who do good works. There’s a problem, however: people are not naturally good; they can only be made good by God saving and transforming them. Like the bad tree that can’t produce good fruit, there is no such thing as a human who can do good works acceptable to God by their own effort; only God’s goodness working through us can produce anything good.

o       Philippians 1:11 …the fruit of righteousness… comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

o       When we are cleansed by God’s Word and abide in Jesus by faith, trusting in Him to make us right with God, only then can we bear good fruit: John 15:1-8 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing... My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples… Abide in my love… I chose you and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit… This I command you that you love one another. (NASB) (cf. Mat. 13:8) This makes it clear that love of others like God loves us is a fruit of this kind of faith that rests in Jesus.

Kinds of Good Fruit in the Bible:

o       Fruitful labor, for Paul, meant bringing people to faith in Jesus: Philippians 1:22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me...

o       Charitable giving also appears as a fruit in the book of Romans, where Paul writes: 1:13 … I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles… 15:28 when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain. (NASB)

o       Children are called “fruit” Luke 1:42 – This is a very important point, even though it is still a few years away for you. Part of being a mature man is the ability to have children and raise them to maturity. Children raised by parents who trust and obey Jesus wholeheartedly will see good fruit from their childraising. May this be true of you!

o       Another aspect of maturity is leadership. This may be even further down the line for you, but some day you may want to be an elder in the church. When it comes time for that, the fruits of your life will be evaluated to see if you are qualified for leadership in the church. 1Tim. 3:2-4  Gives us the list of things to check out: “Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.”

o       Frequent Prayers of thanks and praise to God are another good fruit to look for: Hebrews 13:15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. (NASB)

o       As is lips that tell the truth: Eph. 5:9 …the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth

Truthtelling, Offering Praise and Thanks to God, Leading in the church, Raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, Giving generously, and Sharing the gospel with the lost are all good fruits specifically mentioned in the Bible which we will look for you to bear as you abide faithfully in Christ and mature in godly manhood.

This means war! To win it and bear good fruit you must walk by the Spirit

Galatians 5:16-25  But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another…  Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (NASB)