The Lord’s advice is both practical and spiritual. How do we know the secret of our hearts? We examine how we respond: under pressure, alone and with a subordinate…and we learn what’s really happening on the inside.
Both Sirach and Jesus offer some practical, earthy spiritual wisdom:
You will know the tree by the fruit it bears.
In other words, if you want to learn about the hidden parts of a person, then it is important to listen and observe the practical things that they say and do in a consistent manner over time. If a fruit tree is diseased, the fruit will be affected.
With respect to our interactions with one another, this insight is particularly powerful as a way to understand the people in our lives. Now mind you, for this to be effective we must look for patterns of behavior; anyone can “fake it” in the short run, but when we regularly and consistently speak and act over time our behaviors reveal the content of our hearts.
Have you ever heard of the “Waitress Rule” in business or leadership? Some leaders will purposely take potential employees out for dinner to watch how they interact with servers. What the leader is looking for is how the person treats the waiter or waitress – a person who has no power or authority. If the person is respectful and kind it is often a good indicator that they will be the same way toward fellow employees; if the person is haughty, rude, demanding or in any way unpleasant…it is often an accurate indicator that they will be the same way at work.