God doesn’t want forced obedience. He wants full-hearted devotion.

A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit

Matthew 12:32-35

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.

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Why do you do what you do?

Why do I ask? I ask because your motives matter.

Jesus said that the words that come out of your mouth are a direct reflection of who you are. And your actions are an indication of your heart.

The fruit reflects the root.

Trees bear good fruit when they are healthy. They are rooted into the good ground with a source of plentiful nutrients. If it’s not, then it will either not produce good fruit or produce bad fruit.

So what kind of fruit are you producing?

Your words, actions and the motivation behind them should come from a deep well of love. Your motivation to do or say anything should come from love. Your obedience to Christ, your acts of service, and anything else you do should come from the endless riches you have found in Christ. Love produces good fruit.

Jesus also said it this way,

John 14:15 (NIV)
If you love me, keep my commands.

Shallow rule following doesn’t produce good fruit. Taking the commands found in the bible and making them into a checklist and then checking the twice doesn’t please Jesus.

Jesus made it clear that command following comes after love.

The key word is “if“.

In other words, if you have come to see Jesus in light of His infinite worth and cherish Him more than anything in the world, then you will joyfully obey.

It’s not until you have tasted and seen that the lord is good (Psalm 34:8) that you can truly produce good fruits. It’s not until the seed of full satisfaction in Jesus has been planted and taken root in your heart that you can bear fruit that pleases God.

Anything less is just an external conformity and attempt to copy what you see in other Christians.

Conversion, not conformity

There needs to be a new person. Not a person who simply follows the rules.

You need a new heart with new affection, not a heart that has simply been dusted off and put back in.

This is the promise God makes in Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NIV),

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Your heart and the affections of your heart have to be destroyed and then a new heart had to be put in with the right object of your affection—Jesus.

God doesn’t want forced obedience. He wants full-hearted devotion.

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