In the course of his spiritual instruction Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them.” He went on to say, “Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles. So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit” (Matthew 7:15-17). In this message, Jesus was warning the people of false prophets, who might lead them astray—people who were saying one thing while demonstrating something quite different. “Wolves in sheep’s clothing,” he called them. Beyond that, he was also revealing a very important law of life—a law that, when understood, can help you to demonstrate success in virtually every area of your life.
The unique conditions you may find in your life are like the fruit of which Jesus spoke. The condition of your health, your finances, your relationships, your livelihood; all of these reflect the fruit of certain attitudes. If you don’t like the fruit you’re harvesting—for example, poor health, financial struggle, difficulty in maintaining meaningful relationships, unhappiness with your work—it’s essential that you harvest from another tree!
The writer of Proverbs said, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” He understood that it’s what we think in our heart that expresses itself in our lives. What you believe about yourself, what you believe about life, can work itself into and through everything you do. Successful living begins by believing yourself worthy of success.
A young woman named Marianne believed she was inferior and her life bore the fruit of that belief. She had grown up on the so-called wrong side of the tracks. Throughout her young life, well-meaning friends warned her not to expect too much because life was hard and it was unfair. For years her life bore the fruit of that belief. She became a prostitute and a drug addict. She was in and out of jail regularly. One day, while walking through a shopping mall, Marianne stole a wallet from another woman’s purse. The wallet contained a few dollars, some credit cards, and, among other things, a small pamphlet. Intending to take only what was of immediate value and get rid of the rest, a sentence from the pamphlet caught her attention, “As a child of God, you are worthy of the best life has to offer.”
In the moments that followed, something strange began to happen to Marianne. Her cold, bitter attitude toward life and people began to melt. Somehow those words struck a familiar note that had long been lost but not quite forgotten. She was further surprised when she found herself desperately feeling the need to return the wallet to the woman. Getting the phone number from a blank check in the wallet, Marianne phoned the woman that day. She explained what she had done and said that she wanted to bring the wallet over to her home immediately.
To Marianne’s surprise, there was no bitterness in the woman’s attitude. Instead, there was compassion and understanding. Marianne told the woman of her hard life, and her story was received with tender sympathy. The woman offered Marianne a job in one of the many dress shops she owned in the city. She went out of her way to help Marianne release the harsh training of her past and begin to believe in herself. In time, the young woman’s life began to bear a whole different kind of fruit. She gradually gained confidence in herself and was able to begin to trust others and see the good in them.
And another person’s faith in us can strengthen our own faith in ourself. The mother of a fifteen year old named Doug became increasingly worried when her son’s temperature kept rising until it reached 105 degrees. Doug was taken to the hospital, where blood tests revealed leukemia. The doctors were frank, telling Doug that for the next three years he would have to undergo chemotherapy. He may go bald and gain weight. Learning this, Doug became discouraged; although he was told that there was a good chance of remission, he was smart enough to know that leukemia can be fatal.
On the day Doug was admitted, his first time in a hospital, he had opened his eyes, looked around the room, and said to his mother, “I thought you got flowers when you are in the hospital.” Hearing this, an aunt called to order an arrangement. The voice of the sales clerk was high pitched, and she sounded young. The aunt imagined an inexperienced person who may be unaware of the arrangement’s significance. So she said, “I want the planter especially attractive. It’s for my teenage nephew who has leukemia.”
“Oh,” said the sales clerk, “Let’s add some fresh‑cut flowers to brighten it up.”
When the arrangement arrived at the hospital, Doug was feeling strong enough to sit up. He opened the envelope and read the card from his aunt. Then he saw another card. His mother said it must have been meant for another flower arrangement, but Doug removed it; opened it, and began to read. The card said, “Doug, I took the order for your flowers. I work at the flower shop. I had leukemia when I was seven years old. I’m twenty-two years old now, and my life is good. Keep your chin up. You can do what you think you can do. My prayers go out to you. Sincerely, Laura Bradley.” Doug’s face lit up. For the first time since he entered the hospital, he felt inspired. He had spoken with many doctors and nurses, but this one card was the thing that caused him to believe he might beat the disease.
This story was reported in the Chicago Tribune newspaper by Bob Greene. “It’s funny,” wrote Mr. Greene, “Doug was in a hospital filled with millions of dollars of the most sophisticated medical equipment. He was being treated by expert doctors and nurses with medical training totaling hundreds of years. But it was a sales clerk in a flower shop who, by taking the time to care and by being willing to go with what her heart told her to do, inspired Doug with the hope and will and belief to carry on. The human spirit can be an amazing thing, and sometimes you encounter it at its very best when you aren’t even looking!”
Pay close attention to what your heart tells you. If you are working toward prosperity and harmony in life, be certain you truly believe you are worthy of having them. This inner conviction, coupled with action, may produce the fruit in life you so deeply desire. Remember, as you think, so you are!”