“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.”
Once I saw a tree whose apples looked crisp and full, at the top. But the lower hanging branches still clung to apples that had not yet dropped or been picked. These apples were just past ripe and were beginning to soften and brown. Insects had penetrated the apples at the bottom and left some of the apples pockmarked.
Yet both sets of apples were from the same tree. Bad fruit. Good fruit. Same tree.
So too with Abram in the first reading. God picked him to lead his people and promised him the nations because of his faith. He was a good tree. Because of his impatience, however, he took matters into his own hands by sleeping with his wife’s maidservant. The action immediately created negative consequences, though the goal of offspring was accomplished. The negative consequences created division, hatred and worsened, continuing down through the generations. Bad fruit.
In the reading for today, however, God makes a covenant promise with Abram. By putting his faith again in God’s word, he recommitted himself to the Lord. And as we hear, God “credited it to him as an act of righteousness”. Good fruit.
Same tree. Bad fruit. Good fruit.
I bet we’re not all that different. We’re good people who produce good fruit. But at times, we put too much faith in ourselves and our fruit, clinging to our mature apples for too long. And then they become rotten.
Seek progress, not perfection. Jesus never says anything about producing perfect fruit. Just… good fruit.