A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him. Proverbs 12:14 NASB
The fruit, or yield, of my words are like seeds planted in the ears of others. They find soil, receptivity, and growing conditions that produce results. Jesus’ parable of the sower comes to mind in that the quality of the land (or heart) that hears the words affects the harvest — whether the seed is choked out, or whether it finds good, well-tilled soil that produces good things. The focus in this proverb is the well-placed seed. From my heart I pull the good that my Father has given me and see an opportunity to speak or plant it in another. What a great delight when it helps — when the right word, at the right moment, finds the right person.
There are two kinds of fruitfulness, the first being what comes from my heart and mouth, the second comes from what I do. Solomon often contrasts two extremes or opposites, but here instead he uses succession and intensity— one thing following another with increasing results. The words coming from me can be powerful, but so is the “doing” — the labor or outflow of my work. “The deeds of a man’s hands will return to him” or another translation says, “paid back to him.” The Hebrew means to return, to pull in again, or come home. The idea of a natural circuit, or cycle that when it comes back to me is complete, as if it was a payment owed to me. And I find this to be a trait that is just like my Father — He has an expectation for increase whenever he invests or gives something. When something is sent, it returns. Fruitfulness is in His nature.
My fruitfulness comes from being connected to the vine. My closeness to Jesus, abiding in him and his people yields fruit in both my words and deeds. And to put it more plainly: Jesus expects fruitfulness of me. It is impossible to be connected to him and not yield something tangibly good. I like the progression of this proverb — first I speak, then I do. There is an order in how we humans do something. God plants good seed in our heart, we think about it, meditate upon it, allow it to take root, and it grows. But it is not enough for a thought or idea to remain inside. Experiencing life cannot be accomplished only by reading books or hearing stories. I must touch, taste, feel, and know it myself. It must come out. And before any action, there is something I express whether in word, to a friend, in my journal, in my plans. My heart sets a course before it moves. There is something special and powerful about saying something out loud. Speaking it in prayer, or declaring it to a friend. It’s emboldening. Cementing. From there I act. I must act. Life must be lived. Jesus didn’t teach so that we could simply watch re-runs of season 1 again and again. I am season 2. I must make my own story. And as with all good seed that I speak and do, it will come back to me. Just like it comes back to Jesus.
But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. Luke 8:15 NASB