Let’s talk about apple trees for a moment.
What can be said about an apple tree? Well, in its natural state, it only bears apples. Not oranges, not pears, not plums – it is an apple tree so it produces apples. No matter how much I want it or expect it or demand it to give me a pear, when I walk up to an apple tree, all I will find is apples. And this should not surprise me or upset me. Why would I think I would get anything other than an apple from an apple tree? That’s just silly.
Additionally, if I decide to have a picnic or take a nap under an apple tree, I should not be surprised or upset when an apple or two drops on my head. I can be mad at the tree all I want and can even yell at it to stop dropping apples on me. But alas, that is what apple trees do; they grow and drop apples so this should not surprise or upset me.
However, what if the apple tree says it is sorry for letting me down and hurting me so from now on it will produce pears? Most people know that the only way an apple tree is going to stop making apples and make pears instead is if a master gardener does a radical job of pruning followed by the grafting in a large number of pear branches. In response to the apple tree’s declaration, a wise person would look for evidence of radical transformation before accepting the promise of change.
Truth be known, people are a lot like apple trees – they produce according to their nature. If a person is angry in their core, he or she will produce words and actions of anger. People who are selfish will not be able to bear the fruit of compassion or empathy. And incredibly self-centered folks will drop mean and hurtful words on everyone’s head.
It is interesting to me that as much as we understand how apple trees work – my discussion above may have prompted a “Well, duh, Pastor Jim” from you – we regularly find ourselves surprised and upset when people bear fruit consistent with their nature. Here is what that may sound like:
“Pastor Jim, why does my ex-husband say and do those hurtful things? What did I do wrong? What is wrong with me that he cannot see how painful this is and stop?”
The reality often is that the woman asking these questions probably has fundamentally done nothing wrong. She does not deserve what is happening. And there is really nothing she can do to change it. Her ex-husband is an “apple tree” and she should not be surprised or upset that he produces and drops “apples.” Additionally, unless her ex-husband shows reportable and observable evidence of pruning and grafting by the Master Gardener, she should resolve that “apples” is all she will ever get from him.
There were many years in my marriage that I bore fruit consistent with my nature – rotten fruit. It dropped on everyone to some extent, my wife Debbie to a great extent. I praise the Lord for the day He radically (and painfully) pruned and grafted in my life.