“Ye Shall Know Them by Their Fruits”

D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C. Skinner

Jesus warned his listeners to beware of false prophets who are among the sheep (the members of the Church), but they are dangerous wolves in disguise. How can we recognize them? “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (compare Moroni 7:5). The words and works of men and women are compared to fruit, good works being good fruit, and evil works, bad fruit. Whether in the world of plant life or human life, God wants good produce, good fruit.

There grew in scriptural lands a formidable abundance of thorns and thistles, and they could not escape the figurative eye of the prophets and the Savior. Thorns and thistles served only to afflict, distract, and annoy. They never symbolized anything good or positive.

Trees, because of their essential role in providing food, material for buildings, shelter, occupational tools and implements, and shade, and for preventing deterioration of the landscape, enjoyed respect and near reverence from the inhabitants of scriptural lands. Trees were also among the favorite objects of imagery and symbolism. Trees usually represent people.

From Jesus and his disciples came many examples of trees as object lessons. Bad trees produce ill will, negativism, criticism, accusation, cynicism, and all kinds of destructive thinking and sinful behavior. Good trees produce good fruit. Joseph Smith was a good tree. The Book of Mormon is a good tree. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a good tree. Jesus Christ himself is the best tree of all—the Tree of Life. We can know the trees; that is, we can know the hearts and souls of people perfectly by what comes out of their minds and mouths. In a sense, we seldom speak or act truly impulsively; we say and do what we are.

Verse by Verse: The Book of Mormon: Vol. 2