“by their fruits…”

Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Matt. 7:20)

I started working on cleaning up (and de-cluttering) my study this week. One of the things that I decided to do was to finally hang up some of my diplomas and awards. Not because I want to live on my past, or even brag about it, but because I need to be reminded that my work, my ministry and my reputation are based on what I do today. Not yesterday. And that I got this far through a lot of hard work and perseverance, and with the help and support of others.

Don’t get me wrong, yesterday’s achievements do color how we are perceived today. But I also know what it’s like to want a “fresh start” when there’s memories of high school or college in the back of someone’s mind. I think about those who have been through difficult periods –  like those who were incarcerated, or were even just accused but not convicted of a crime. How much they long for grace and for a way to walk in new habits and with a new self-image! If only we could see and feed it.

Starting into an election cycle, I hold a deep frustration for the “mining of ancient history” for political candidates. Should we know if someone took kickbacks or used their office for financial gain? Certainly! Do we need to know what someone’s voting record has been on specific issues? Sure. (It says far more to me whena candidate moves in his or her views rather than being concretized.) But do I care if he or she had marriage struggles, or if their college yearbook shows them with a glass of beer, wearing mardis gras beads? In the era of Facebook? not so much.

I’m more interested to know how a candidate spends their discretionary money. Does she support and care for causes which represent the neediest and least privileged? Or does she just talk about it? And more than that, how does he treat his office staff, right down to the person who unloads copier paper or cleans the bathrooms? Does she care about the environment and drive an SUV? (Hey. I’m guilty of that one.)  Does he state he is in favor of equal opportunity, but then surrounds himself with advisors who look and smell like him?

So I found frames for my diplomas and pondered… What’s growing here? How have I changed since I flipped that mortarboard’s tassel? What will you see when we look back over the last couple of years?

Just tending the plants… watching for the fruit that develops…

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