Matthew 7:15-20 – CHARACTER VS REPUTATION – A Parable

Posted: June 23, 2012 in Matthew, Matthew 7
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Matthew 7:15-20 – CHARACTER VS REPUTATION – A Parable

“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow” (Lincoln).

When the light peeked over the mountain and shone down upon the forest glade, there in the faint mist of early morning stood a beautiful fruit tree and its shadow. The shadow would dance gracefully in the mist and as the mist cleared it stretched out upon the earth, full length. It boasted to the tree of how extensive it was but by midday and on rainy days it was humbled again. The tree pointed out to the shadow. “You are only a shadow. You have a distorted view of yourself. Without the light I would not grow and without me you would not grow and recede each day. Don’t think more highly or lowly of yourself than you should. Remember that you represent me but you are not me.”

The shadow did not understand and was insulted by what the tree was trying to say. It was not content to merely “represent” the tree. It wanted more. In the morning when the shadow stretched full length it said, “I am more important to you than you may think. Without me your influence would not be extended to the far corners of the glade. Without me many would not know that you exist! I make you known and give you credibility.”

The tree was concerned about the shadow’s sense of self-importance. It replied “You can certainly stretch the truth about me to others, but you cater to the textures of the personality of all that you are with. Tainted and painted by what you are projected upon, you will always depend on others to shape you, taking on their preconceived ideas. In the end your influence is immaterial when describing my character. Your influence has no substance.”

The shadow began to pout. It found some of the lowest, darkest and most secret of corners and began gossiping and whispering unkind tales about the tree. There was no substance to what the shadow said but others gave the far-fetched tales substance. It was cold and lonely in the shadow of the tree for a time and during the winter months the shadows edges were more and more faded, blurred and indistinct.

As winter became spring the light around the tree defined the shape of the shadow in more truthful terms, but the shadow still did not shed any light at all upon the real character of the tree. Those who spent time on the dark side of the tree were intimidated. “Why are you so arrogant, so black and white in your attitudes” they said to the tree.

“You will never discover anything about me when you listen to stories of those who lack light and who walk in darkness” said the tree. “Walk in the light and look up into my branches and you will have a much more accurate assessment of who I really am. Your views at present are shaded, dappled, two-dimensional silhouettes, mere projections, and only an inadequate outline of what I offer.”

One day in the early stirrings of spring, the glade was suddenly washed in light as God looked down upon the tree. He had recently painted the tree with autumn colours, golden ochers, burnt umbers and raw siennas, a spectrum of brilliance, and with the gentle breath of His Spirit it’s leaves were scattered in the breeze, only to be replaced in the Spring with luscious buds. Unseen in the heart of the tree, far beneath the textured surface of the bark, He fashioned and formed another growth ring. He spoke gently to the tree “Some will pass by and walk within your shadow and see only a dark outline of who you are but I have looked upon your heart. I see that when the winter seasons have left you bare and barren, that deep inside of you there is the dream of Springtime fruit.”

And with these words, soon the tree was heavy with sweet, tender fruit, brilliant in ripe colours, flaring in the light in contrast to the thick deep greenery of its newly formed leaves. And God said “Yes, just as you can identify the character of a tree by its fruit, so you can identify the character of people by their actions. Walk in the light as I am in the light” (See Matthew 7:20 and 1 John 1:7)

Pastor Ross

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Comments
  1. What a great parable!

    Like

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