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08 February 2010

cold hands, warm heart?

In one of the men's bathrooms at Wall Highway Baptist Church's sanctuary building is a sink that will not dispense hot water. In the past I've turned the water on and let it run for a full minute (which is a pretty long time if you just want hot or warm water) without feeling so much as a slight increase in temperature. This is surely a discouragement from washing one's hands, but I always do that regardless. I promise.

Some time last year I heard the facilities maintenance guy comment that there is not a hot water line running to that sink. I immediately felt personal embarrassment that I'd never bothered to look underneath to see that there was only one pipe running from the wall to the sink.

No matter what I tried and no matter how long I let the water run, I would never have been able to get warm water from that spigot. On the surface, though, since there are two valves on each side of the faucet, one would think that one side would produce hot water and the other cold. Its appearance is completely deceptive.

What a cool (har har) parallel to Jesus' rhetorical question to His disciples in Matthew 7, "Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?"

Have you ever wondered how Jesus could say, "Do not judge others and you will not be judged," and just a minute later say, "Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions" (or maybe a faucet by its water)? This is far more harmonious than many people care to see, though the first phrase is used, often incorrectly, as ammunition by people who want to attack Christ-followers as hateful, vengeful, or unloving.

Any thoughts on the fact that those two statements are not mutually exclusive?


Leroy said...

"Do not judge others" is meant in the terms of condemnation (only God knows our heart); "fruit production and identification" is the visible actions of a heart changed. It is a matter of actions speaking louder than words.

If I say I'm a Christian, then I should be walking in the Spirit and producing those, joy, peace, etc. (Galatians 5:16-26).

Dean Lusk said...


But... wasn't Jesus talking to the disciples about seeing the fruit of other people? And if He was, doesn't that change the emphasis of what He was saying? He says in other places "Worry about yourself," but not so much here.

Leroy said...

Yes, I was thinking about fruit production among others as well as ourselves. Just ran my two thoughts together. That's what happens when you think faster than you can type. :) I'm not sure the emphasis changes though; but definately how we apply the emphasis.

Jeff said...

I LOVE this discussion! (and I can actually promise you no sarcasm or witty retorts in this reply).

The thing I think people fail to realize in this passage as with EVERY passage where Jesus speaks is that His heart was so much more compassionate than ours. We think of Jesus as thinking and feeling just like us (flawed humans) and we miss the fact that he was offering us encouragement about how to love people.

That may sound weird, but if you don't assess by someone's fruit where they are (spiritually) you can't truly love them, can you?

Leroy was correct: using a "spiritual fruit" assessment to judge someone is unquestionably wrong. So, instead, when you see someone's fruit, and you're able to uncover where they are in their journey, it is your obligation to alter the way you love them. Everyone needs compassion, but only Jesus taught us exactly how to dole it out.

for lack of a satirical closer,
Grace and peace,

Dean Lusk said...

Really liked the way you put this, Jeff: "if you don't assess by someone's fruit where they are (spiritually) you can't truly love them, can you?"

Also, the perspective on Jesus' inner compassion is extremely good.

Dean Lusk said...

"Inner compassion" was a rotten choice of words! I was talking about the perspective on Jesus' heart and His compassion.

Plenty of people may have "inner compassion" that never manifests itself.

Leroy said...

"Leroy was correct"

Awesome. :)

Really cool part, but can be difficult to do: "...instead, when you see someone's fruit, and you're able to uncover where they are in their journey, it is your obligation to alter the way you love them."

Sometimes it's much easier to wonder why they don't "get it".

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