Fruitfulness and Froot Loops

How do you judge a tree by its fruit?

Froot Loops were introduced as a cereal option for kids in 1959. It was originally introduced under the term Fruit Loops, but due to a lawsuit the name was changed to Froot Loops. The original colors were red, orange, and yellow; the flavors cherry, orange, and lemon. Later, green, purple, and blue were added. They were officially introduced to the public in 1963. Over the years, the cereal has been a multi-billion dollar hit!

So, by now you’re asking, What in the world does this have to do with an article on biblical fruitfulness? Well, in modern language the term Froot Loops has become a metaphor that is used to describe something fake, false, or not real. In a day with so many fake substitutes available, maybe we need to get a better grasp on the difference between real fruitfulness and Froot Loops

Every day, you and I are making decisions about the character of people around us. Do I believe in this person? Is so-and-so trustworthy? They seem okay… but…? Distrust is at an all-time high. So how do we really gage people? Say in a business deal or in a marriage? How about hiring a good babysitter for your kids, or the choice of who is going to be friends with your kids? The truth is, we must become better at being able to differentiate between good fruit and Froot Loops.

In Luke 6:43-45, we find Jesus addressing this very topic with His disciples. In His discussion, He gives us five principles that instruct us on discerning good fruit within a person. They’re clear, concise, and at times convicting. Here they are: 1) Check the tree (fruit). 2) Check the frequency. 3) Check the release. 4) Check the growth. 5) Check the roots. Let’s take a quick look at each principle and apply it to our situation. Ready?

Check the Tree

Trees are marvelous things. Of course, that was God’s intent when He made them in the beginning. They have this uncanny ability to reproduce themselves, to produce a product that can be modified to build things, and to offer food for mankind. Imagine a world without trees. Hard to do, right? God knew what He was doing when He made trees!

Every tree produces fruit. However, the health of the tree determines the health of the fruit. The same is true with mankind, or we could say, with each of us. Jesus simplifies the process when He says, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers (Luke 6:43-44a NIV).” Learn to be a tree/fruit inspector. 

Remember, no bad tree can bear good fruit. The same is true with mankind (of course, this is not a statement that mankind can’t change). Heal the tree—change the fruit!

Check the Frequency  

Trees bear fruit in season. That’s a known fact and a good thing to keep in mind. However, this does not mean we have bad fruit or no fruit when the tree is not in season. It is merely telling us that at any given time, a person’s fruit might not be mature or ripe. It could be in blossom form or at an immature stage. That is good to keep in mind when we are examining the fruit of others. 

The other side of the story is that good fruit trees are not inhibited from bearing fruit in tough times. A good fruit tree can bear fruit in all conditions. Jeremiah describes the tree (man or woman) that is planted by the water and capable of bearing good fruit. He says, It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV).” Expect to bear fruit on all occasions!  

Check the Release

Unfortunately, some trees are harder to harvest than others. They tend to hang on to the fruit. Sometimes even to the point of rotting. Other trees are difficult to harvest because of their biological make up. Take the pineapple tree for instance. Did you know that it takes three years to produce its first pineapple? After that it will produce only one fruit per 12-18 months. 

Unfortunately, some people have the same tendencies. Slow to produce good fruit, and seemingly take forever to let go of it!

Paul gives us a beautiful picture of the fruit that God wants to produce in us. We call it the fruit of the Spirit. He describes them in this way, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).” 

Have you ever noticed that each of the fruit mentioned are presented in the language form of a noun. Why is that? Because Paul is saying that the fruit God grows in us becomes a state of being within us. Your fruit is more than just a kind action or deed; it becomes who you are at the core. That… is good news!

Check the Roots

Good fruit on a tree is impossible to produce without a healthy root system. Therefore, God often uses this metaphor to teach us the importance of being planted by a good stream. “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers (Psalm 1:3 NIV).”

Roots will always go to water. Understanding this is an absolute must.

Another way to put it would be, the fruit will always reveal what the tree has stored up in its roots. If plenty of good nourishment is present, the fruit will be luscious and sweet. If not, sourness and bitterness will prevail. The same thing works in us as individuals, with a little different twist. The mouth will always reveal what the person has stored up in their heart. (See Luke 6:45.)

The bottom line… always notice where people are planted. What gets their attention. What consumes their time, etc. And of course, what comes out of their mouth. Check the roots!

Check the Growth

When a healthy tree is in its growth season, the fruit is always in a constant state of growth. I admit that at times it seems so slow and minute that sometimes it is hard to tell. However, the truth is that it is growing daily. The same is true with you and me. We never stop growing. Never stop learning. Never stop becoming.

Did you know that trees can adapt to most environments astoundingly well? They adapt to various amounts of water, to various soil types, to the heat and cold. They can even adapt to obstacles in their path. Amazing! In fact, the growth rings of a tree present a well-documented record. They reveal the years that the tree had to adapt to either too much or too little water. They exist to grow….

You can grow in any environment! You too can learn to dig down deep in times of spiritual drought. You can still produce fruit in season. Check the growth!

About Your Tree

Here is a little-known fact that doesn’t change. Whatever a tree is rooted in, it produces. This explains why God needed to graft us into a good vine to get the harvest He desired. God took the time to graft us into the good vine.   

Jesus Himself said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5 NIV).” And again, “…and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others (God’s good vine) and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root… (Romans 11:17 NIV).” I say, what a rich heritage you and I have!

A life of Froot Loops can never replace the fruitfulness that our God places within us. Wouldn’t you agree? So, the question remains… which do you prefer, Froot Loops or biblical fruitfulness? 

Dr. Jon Chasteen
Dr. Jon Chasteen
Dr. Jon Chasteen is the President of The King's University and the Lead Pastor at Victory Church in Oklahoma City.