Luke 6:43-45

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.

The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. Luke 6:43-45

If we have learned anything in the past several years, we have learned that words matter. Leadership matters. Today Jesus reminds us that our words reveal our character. And that our character flows forth in our actions. But, while we have always known that, we don’t always remember it.

We look back at our own lives and we see how deeply we have been impacted by the words and actions of others, for both good and ill. From our personal lives (the families, teachers, coaches, friends) who shaped us, to our public lives (the impact of elected leaders), we become the people we are.

It seems particularly timely that today’s reading comes on the first day of the second impeachment trial of our former president. He has been accused of inciting the storming of the United States capital building on January 6th even as the electoral votes were tallied for our new president. Five people died that day. Will he be held accountable or will he be protected?

Jesus says that “it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” Because of Twitter and YouTube, we have heard more words spoken by our former president than any other president in our lifetimes. Than any other president in history. While I can appreciate how many people applauded him for being plain-spoken, for “telling it like it is”, the simple fact of the matter is that he didn’t tell it like it is. He lied constantly and increasingly. Even his much spouted laundry list of accomplishments was largely hyperbole and exaggeration.

We all learned in Parenting 101 that it isn’t helpful to tell our children, “Do as I say, not as I do.” It just doesn’t work that way. We teach, and children learn, by modeling, based both on what we say and what we do. Our words, and subsequently our actions, reveal who we are.

It is clear that Jesus wants to set us up for success in our lives. In his entire Sermon on the Plain, he lifts up what it looks like to be good people for ourselves and for others. He lifts up a value system, and a way of being, that is deeply at odds with what people could characterize as “just the way the world really works.”

Jesus isn’t interested in apologizing for the world, he seeks to transform it. And that starts with winning hearts and minds over to a different sense of the common good.

When Jesus changes our hearts, our words and actions change as well. Bottom line – they will know we are Christians by our love.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, you know our hearts. You know how easy it is for us to say one thing yet do another. Continue to hold up the mirror of your way of being to our own lives. Help us align our words and actions to more clearly reveal your love to the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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