Be rooted in Christ – Luke 6:43-49

Must someone be rooted in Christ to be a good person? We all know lots of people who are aren’t master criminals, but just hard-working, honest people trying to get by.

Christians are often understood to be like that: Good people. But some Christians do things that aren’t good. And then some ‘good people’ do things that make them (and others) think they’re a Christian.

If a Christian isn’t always good, are they still a Christian? If a good person is always (or mostly) good, does that make them a Christian?  What’s the difference? Can you tell? What are you? How can you know?

Jesus’ teaching in these verses seems really black & white – you’re good or you’re bad. But life seems a bit more grey. How can you know if you’re real or not?

These notes accompany a sermon on YouTube delivered at Bromborough Evangelical Church Wirral in December 2022. You can find more in the series in our Sermon Index.

Be real in Christ (43-45)

Since v20, we’ve been looking at what’s known as “the sermon on the Plain” – a summary of some of Jesus’ teaching.

  • Jesus began with 4 blessings and 4 woes.
  • He told you to love your enemies, to forgive, then give, and to bless and to pray for those who oppose you.
  • Jesus taught you to have compassion, not a judgmental, nitpicking, fault-finding spirit.

He was speaking to his disciples, not to a general crowd of passers-by. If you’re a Christian, he was speaking instruction to you. He now gives more reason for those instructions:

  • Verse 43 begins literally with a “for/since”
  • Read Luke 6:43-45.

He’s being very black-and-white. Fruit is either good or bad, and so are people.

So are you a “good person” or a “bad person”?

Think about what he’s saying about the fruit:

  • Uncooked elderberries (for example) can make you seriously ill.
  • Uncooked blackberries won’t.
  • You can’t pick elderberries from a blackberry bush, and you don’t get blackberries from an elder tree.
  • You might get some pretty rubbish blackberries from a blackberry bush, but they’re still blackberries.

Jesus says people are like that.

The things that someone does will reflect their very nature: Good people do good things; bad things come from bad people. Jesus is pointing you to look to someone’s inner self. But is life really that black-and-white?

A garden illustration

We’ve got a standard rose in our garden.

  • The top part is a pretty, umbrella-shaped, delicate country rose. It has pale pink flowers. Very nice.
  • That bit was grafted onto the top of a straight, featureless stick of a stem. No pretty flowers there.
  • Mostly, we see a lovely rose. Often, though, the ugly rootstock sends up straight, featureless sticks of nothing.
  • It all looks nice on top, but the roots are unchanged.
  • Can people be like that? Yes. You included.

When a good person does good things, does that make them Christian? Are they a whole new thing, or is just the top ok?

When someone does good in the name of another religion (or no religion), is that acceptable to God?

Motivation from the heart

Jesus says you’re to look at the fruit someone produces and see if it’s aligned with their inner person. What’s their motivation to goodness? How far will they go in their goodness?

  • Is someone doing good in the hope of heaven? The Bible makes it clear that your best good is never good enough.
  • Is someone doing good out of fear of hell or punishment? Again, you can never be good enough to escape hell.
  • Many people do good out of pity or compassion. Of course, we’re moral creatures made in God’s image.
  • But how often does ‘doing good’ extend to loving your enemies? To both forgiving and giving those against you?

Someone who does good out of the treasuries of their heart is someone who gives from a changed heart. That kind of goodness and love is the goodness and love of God flowing through and out. Jesus commands his followers to have compassion (mercy) even as your heavenly Father does.

So be real in Christ. Read Luke 6:45 again.

God’s compassion and love for you compelled him to act. He entered the world to take the punishment your sins deserve. Your best good works are not enough. But no matter – God is willing to forgive you. He is ready, right now to forgive you, then to give to you and bless you. Jesus himself invites you. Go to him. Pray. Ask forgiveness.

That’s all a Christian actually is. Having been forgiven, with God as our father we seek to live for him and do good in his name. His compassion and mercy are to flow through his people in acts of love and goodness!

So be real to yourself. Are you a Christian or not? If not, come to Christ.

And then, if you are a Christian:

Do good in Christ (46)

Jesus asks an obvious question, and one which many a doubting Christian has asked themselves. Read Luke 6:46.

When Jesus was born into the world at Bethlehem, the angels told the shepherds that Christ, the Lord, was born. Christians happily refer to Jesus as “the Lord” and the New Testament often speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ, etc. When someone accepts Christ as Lord and becomes a Christian, their world is transformed forever!

  • You become a child of God. He is your Father.
  • You become a temple of the Holy Spirit. God now dwells in you personally, and among us when we gather.
  • In Christ, you’re now a citizen of heaven. This world isn’t your home any more – you’re just passing through.
  • Even now, you’re already seating in the heavenly realms in Christ. 
  • And you’re part of the body of Christ, the bride of Christ.

All that should show, shouldn’t it? People should be able to tell when they meet you, or work with you, shouldn’t they? You change, though in truth that change takes time.

Maturity takes time

You mature and grow as a Christian:

  • Your knowledge and wisdom will grow as you spend time here, and alone in prayer and reading God’s words.
  • Then your appetite for Jesus himself will grow. You yearn to see him.
  • Your love for the Lord, for his people, and for time with him in prayer and reading will grow.
  • And, in the context of what Jesus is saying in this sermon in Luke 6, the flow of God’s own compassion through you will grow too. You will do good in Christ.

Some people just dabble. Maybe you’re one of those people who just act the part to look and feel Christian. Drop that pretence; drop the sham. Let go of your part-time kidology.

Repent of your idolatry that holds you back from really immersing yourself in Christ and living for him. Turn to Jesus again. Ask his forgiveness and help, again. He is always ready to receive a repentant heart. Always.

Will you be a good tree, bearing good fruit?

It comes from a heart committed to Jesus, doing good out of a living relationship with him.

  • Do good.
  • Use kind words. No more cursing, no more crude language (in person or online).
  • Love and goodness are active. Put away sin, and in love do good to others for Christ’s sake and in his name.

Still, someone might wonder if all this Jesus talk is a bit much. You might still think that God will surely be satisfied with good works, won’t he?

Stand firm in Christ (47-49)

Everything you can touch, you will one day lose. Eternity waits for you, patiently.

You might hope not to go with all this ‘extreme’ Christian / Bible / Jesus stuff, and rather trust in your own good works. For every good thing you have done, you’ll have a bad thought or action to offset it. In life, there is only one wholly secure foundation that will see you through this life and the next.

Read Luke 6:47-49.

A life built on Christ is secure. Secure in poverty, sickness, grief, even death – and beyond. Without Christ as your saviour, you’ll meet him as your Judge. Having rejected him in this life, you’ll be rejected by him in the next. It doesn’t have to be that way. He invites you to security now.

When you trust in Jesus for your eternity, rather than trusting in your own good works, then you’ll do good works for him! You will live for him. 

Have firm foundations; be rooted in Christ

And whatever this life throws at you, you’ll remain strong because you stand firm on him. Firm foundations don’t move.

  • When new ideas and ideologies come along, stand firm.
  • Under political upheaval, stand firm in Christ.
  • If you’re tempted to give up or give in under opposition or persecution, you can stand firm in Christ knowing your ultimate future us secure.
  • When tempted to sin or compromise, you can stand firm in Christ knowing that his way is the best way.
  • When you doubt, or worry, or have anxiety or depression, you can stand firm in Christ knowing that he cares for you and will see you through the darkness into the light.

How do you stand firm? How do you dig deep foundations? Hear the words of Jesus and do them.

  • Bear fruit (do things) in keeping with repentance – turn from your sin to God who welcomes you.
  • Cry out to him for forgiveness and receive all the blessings he gives: Adoption, community, love, life.
  • As you experience God’s compassion and forgiveness, then let that flow through you to others. How?
    • Love your enemies; forgive; give; bless; pray

A life in Christ is never built on the acquisition of things. Let that sink right into your Christmas list.

A life of goodness, standing firm in Christ, is built on the outward flow of God’s compassion and mercy through you, stemming from a real heart for Christ.

So be real in Christ: Don’t just look like a Christian by trying to do good, but turn to Jesus for forgiveness and he will give it.

Then do good in Christ: Commit to him, and grow in works that stem from God’s compassion to you and through you.

And stand firm in Christ: With the eternal Son of God as your security, there is nothing in this world that can ultimately shake you.