This sounds like a question you might hear at a psychiatrist’s office, doesn’t it? Actually it is a metaphor that Jesus used in Matthew 12:33-34, when Jesus said “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”
We have all heard you can’t judge a book by its cover. But Jesus said you could judge a tree by its fruit. So I have to ask myself the question: What type of spiritual fruit is being produced in my life?
According to Galatians 5: “22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Tim Keller teaches a Bible study on the fruit of the Spirit. He explains the difference between good fruit, bad fruit and counterfeit fruit. Here is a quick synopsis of his study:
Joyfully serving another for their good, not to get something in return.
Opposite: Fear leading to self-protection resulting in the harm of others.
Counterfeit: Affection shown to others for selfish reasons. Attraction to others for how they make you feel. Helping others to feel good about yourself.
Delighting in the beauty of God and the salvation he gives us in Christ even in difficult times of loss, disappointment, and pain.
Opposite: Despair and a lack of or fear of hope.
Counterfeit: Excitement and happiness that exists only when things are good leading to mood swings. Happiness not in God but in what he brings.
Confident assurance that God is for us, that he is wise, and that he is in control rather than trust in ourselves.
Opposite: Worry and anxiety.
Counterfeit: Apathy that does not grieve over the difficulty.
Suffering joyfully and not becoming angry at God when his timing doesn’t match our own.
Opposite: Bitterness and resentment toward God that manifests itself in agitation or outright expressions of anger with others.
Counterfeit: Self-righteous cynicism that pretends concern is unspiritual.
Sincere vulnerability that involves empathy, compassion, and help.
Opposite: The inability to rejoice in the good happening to others.
Counterfeit: Helping others in an attempt to control other people marked by promotion of self and pride.
Honesty, openness, and consistency in all contexts of life.
Opposite: Hypocrisy, phoniness, and insincerity.
Counterfeit: Being honest in an insensitive way without love. Insincerity that pretends to be sincere.
Loyalty, reliability, and courage based on convictions and not on practical benefit leading to loving confrontation when it is right.
Opposite: Opportunistic living that swings from committed to absent.
Counterfeit: Being ‘loving’ without any concern for truth. Being loyal out of self-righteous pride leading to an unwillingness to address wrongs.
Not thinking of yourself highly so that you are sensitive to the needs of others.
Opposite: Thinking you are superior leading to self-absorption and self-promotion that crushes others.
Counterfeit: Insecurity that is self-absorbed so that words of self-deprecation are said so that others affirm us.
Staying focused on the important things rather than what is urgent.
Opposite: Impulsive living in the moment.
Counterfeit: Using willpower to stay disciplined resulting in pride over your accomplishment.
So as we mature in Christ, as we are pruned by the vinedresser, through God’s spirit we will produce more fruit, real fruit and it will be good.