I went shopping for groceries the other day at a Walmart Neighborhood Market and began my ramble in the produce department. I love Washington delicious apples and they had a whole area dedicated to apples. I started the process that everyone does who is shopping for fruit: search through the myriad of apples on display for the ones that were appealing. I began the selection process by picking up potential candidates and looking them over. Many of them had flaws. There were worm holes, and discolorations. There were some that were bruised so badly that they were too soft in one part and others weren’t ripe enough yet. They were all rejected. The two apples that went home with me were gorgeously red, firm to the touch, nice and big, and looked delicious.
“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14
The next day I couldn't wait to treat myself to one of those apples. They were both firm, red, plump, and looked scrumptious. As I took a bite from the one on the left, I immediately spit it out. The inside of the apple was brown and rotten. How could that be? It looked great from the outside. In my experience, one can tell when an apple is rotten because the outside starts showing signs of deterioration. Not in this case.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.” Matthew 23:27 (New Living Translation)
I immediately grabbed a knife and took the second apple. I wondered if it was rotten like the first. When I cut it in two, there were two of the freshest, juiciest halves I had ever seen. The second apple was one of the best apples I had eaten in a very long time. I pondered that very strange scenario. How can two apples look identical but be so drastically different on the inside? There were so many spiritual lessons I learned at Walmart that day. In the Bible there are five places where we are called the “apple of God’s eye”. (Zech 2:8) God is searching the whole earth for some tasty fruit to enjoy. He is standing at the bin looking, feeling, and sometimes squeezing apples to see who will be selected.
“You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.” Matthew 7:16-18 (New Living Translation)
The only time I ever read where Jesus cursed anything was a fig tree that bore no fruit. Producing fruit is extremely important in the grand scheme of things. And the Bible is clear that rotten apples will be chunked into the fire.
“Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 3:10 (New Living Translation)
So today would be a good day to evaluate yourself on what kind of fruit you have been producing lately. Are you a barren tree? Are you gorgeous on the outside but rotten on the inside? Are you tasty and juicy to God? All things are created for his pleasure, you know. (Revelation 4:11) I remember the old days when being called “a fruit” was a bad thing. Let me give you a new perspective on being in the Walmart apple cart.
"I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken. Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” John 15:1-8 (The Message)