By Melanie Rigney



 A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit,
nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
~ Matthew 7:18

Our elderly next-door neighbor Cy never objected much when one of our balls landed in his hydrangeas. He liked that sometimes we kids would come over at dusk on a summer night with glasses of lemonade to sit with him on his front steps. Nobody said much; we just watched the glory of the sunset together.

The Rule of Cy

There was one rule when we came into Cy’s yard: we couldn’t pick his beautiful red chokeberry bush. He warned us that we could get sick if we ate the seeds or pits.

“What if we are really careful and spit out the pits?” I asked him once. He shook his head and said, “That bush is good for looking, not for eating.”

Bad Fruit Today

As an adult, I’ve found Cy’s advice applies to much more than red chokeberry bushes. So often, evil looks good: a politician who seems to understand all our problems—and have all the answers. A friend who listens to our complaints so compassionately—and suggests solutions that seem a little, but not a lot, extreme. A colleague that encourages us to leave early to make up for those extra hours we worked—because no one will notice and we’ll feel better. None of these people may be bad at their core—that’s for God to judge. But with the Almighty’s help, we can discern the quality of the fruit they offer.

Bad fruit isn’t always ugly, bitter, or misshapen. But make no mistake: it will make us sick, even if it’s “good for looking.” Better, then, to cling fast to the tree of life—and the healthy nourishment it provides.


Jesus, help me discern and remove from my life the bad fruit that seems harmless but endangers my relationship with you.

Call to Action

Consider a situation where someone is providing you with advice that would make you feel so good to follow but that you know in your soul would take you down the wrong path. Pray for a way to move away from this person—or confront them compassionately.


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