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Read Introduction to James


“Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.”


James transitions from the mouth in verse 11 to the heart in this verse. This is the 2nd illustration of blessing and cursing coming from the same mouth. 

Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?

A fig tree can’t bear olives. This is completely inconsistent with the nature of a fig tree. The fruit of a tree must correspond to the nature of the tree. 

Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh

As a fig tree can only produce figs and not olives, so one water source can yield only one kind of water. James is dealing with the origins of the believer’s behavior. One cause yields one kind of effect. 


True spiritual production comes from God. 


True spirituality does not admit contradictions of standard. God wants us to keep our tongue in tow to keep consistency with our hearts. A heart of hate does not produce genuine love. The Christian’s mouth should produce that which is consistent with the nature of the Christian life. Fruits of Christian life never violate the nature of the Christian life. 

Spiritual fruit is important because it shows the practical impact of the Christian life. Fruit cannot exist without the tree. It does not produce itself; fruit comes from another source. The fruit of the Christian life does not have an independent source; it comes from God. Some fruits come from faith. We can see what is inside by what is on the outside. 

Mt 12:33-37, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Christians who curse fellow Christians have an evil heart in the face of the fact that he on occasion celebrates who and what God is. God does not accept the duality of worship.