The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
One of our favorite Christmas rituals when my children are growing up is selecting our Christmas tree. No artificial ones for us! We want the real deal!
We meander observantly through the forest of evergreens, inhaling the heavenly scent. I tell Daniel, my son, and Sarah, my daughter, what to look for in the perfect tree.
"First, is price," I state flatly. "I won't go above fifty dollars this year."
"Aw, Mom!" Sarah moans.
But, Daniel brightens.
"If we find one cheaper than fifty dollars, can Sarah and I split the leftover money?"
I laugh, "No, but it will all come out in the Christmas wash, if you catch my drift. So, the first thing to look at is the price tag. Second, . . ."
Here, I pull on a limb for emphasis.
"You rub your fingers along the branches. If no needles fall off, we know the tree is good and fresh."
"Ewww, Mom, that's sticky!" Sarah says with a grimace.
"That's the sap, stupid," says Daniel. "It won't hurt you."
"Don't call your sister 'stupid'!"
"Third, look all around the tree to make sure the branches are evenly spaced. We don't want any unsightly gaps. Fourth, check the trunk to see that it's straight. And, fifth . . ."
"Look, Mom! Here it is!" Daniel exclaims. "We're standing right in front of it!"
Sure enough. The very tree I single out for the lesson is exactly what we are looking for.
We share a round of laughter.
Out comes my purse. Home goes the Christmas tree.
When we stand amidst the greenery of real Christmas trees, it's easy to forget they are no longer living. The ax has been put to the root. The only "fruit" these trees will bear, if chosen from the lot, will be shiny lights and ornaments and a glowing star on top.
And, when we reflect upon the Lord's Second Coming in glory, it's easy to forget the judgment. The ax to the root. The winnowing of grain from chaff.
May the Day of the Lord find us deeply rooted in Him . . .
How are you growing in God's will for you?
Will you pray with me?
Save us, Lord, from the time of trial. Lead us not into temptation. Ground us firmly in Your Word. Let us serve You, and You alone, all of our days until Your coming again. Amen.
Psalms 55 or 138, 139:1-17 (18-23)