v 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
I like to think I can recognise a number of trees by their foliage – the walnut and the fig are fairly easy. I’m not always so sure about apples and pears. But, says James, when it comes to people there are often some obvious outward signs of their inner character. (Actually, I don’t find it as easy as that and have to avoid becoming judgmental sometimes. The general principle however remains true. What goes on inside a person is usually reflected in their actions.) For sure, that is how people judge (evaluate) our Christian profession. If there is a mis-match between what we say and what we do, then the obvious conclusions will be drawn – we are hypocrites.
Does that leave you feeling a little uncomfortable? It does me, because my life is not error-free. Surprise, surprise, I am not a perfect person and it is not that difficult to point the finger and say ‘But do you remember you ….’ Hmm.
That requires a lot of transparent honesty and apologies where necessary. We are not perfect people, but we are forgiven and empowered to live better. Acknowledging our failings and then putting them behind us is part of our progress towards Christian maturity. When God has forgiven us there is no point in holding on to the past and living with regrets, we can move forward and allow our lives to show the fruit of faith.