“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.” – Matthew 12:33
This is one of the familiar passages in the Bible. In many places in the Scriptures man is likened to a tree. We read in the first Psalm, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” So, too, in Jeremiah: “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”
It is evident that in our text the Lord is speaking about men, though His language is concerning trees. It is man that is known by his fruit, man who must be either good or corrupt according as his fruit is, man who is subject to the law so obvious in the world of nature, namely, that what proceeds from a thing must be of the same quality as the thing itself.
But, it is asked, what are the fruits of the human tree? What is it that going forth from a man reveals his inner nature? One answer is, his sincere actions and words, whatever he says and does as the spontaneous expression of his thoughts and affections.