Around this time of year we have seen our share of gift baskets, some with fruit. Usually, such a basket has a variety: different types of fruit, perhaps apples, pears, kiwi. There are various tastes and shapes and colors.
The same, by and large, is true with us: Christ said that "by their fruits you will know them" (Matthew 7:16) but many times it's a mix: there is this kind of result, and that kind of an effect. People are often a "mixed bag." There's fruit we like and fruit we don't. There's fruit that gets along with us and fruit that may affect us in unpleasant ways -- creating an allergic reaction. Left for too long, there may even be rotten fruit, or at least fruit that's beginning to decay, in the basket. This is usually from sloth. At the extremes, fruits can be healthful or poisonous. There was the apple in the Garden...
If there's too much of an ill effect, if the taste is a bit too bitter, and certainly if it sickens us, we are not unwise, of course, to try and correct the matter; and failing that, to avoid the circumstance. A person can be a good person (in most ways) and yet produce a mixed result. Somewhere, there is a weakness, a failing, a hidden negative emotion (bad "vibes" usually indicate this), or an inheritance that allows the enemy to attach. On the other hand, a person can come across as less than charming, perhaps even a bit brusque, or quiet, instead of vivacious, and yet leave a positive impact. What you see is not always what you get.
Perhaps this is one way of looking at Jesus' teaching that it is by the fruits -- not the appearance -- we judge. We can be sure a tree is an apple tree if it bears apples, or a pear tree if there are pears, or a chestnut tree if there are chestnuts. We can't always tell what kind of a tree it is by simply looking at it -- by outward appearances (unless we are arborists). An august, leafy, towering tree can bear virtually nothing in the way of fruit (hiding barrenness in its foliage), while a small and seemingly straggly one may produce the opposite. There can be some fruit from a tree that is good and other fruit that is rotten. This tells us that there are unseen problems -- perhaps disease, perhaps something wrong with its roots. If a tree grants fruit that is medicinal, it is certainly better than a gorgeous one that presents us with berries that are poisonous.
This is often because there are unseen elements in need of sanctification -- internal cleansing. An example comes to us, again, from the fascinating Book of Tobit. There was Raguel's daughter, Sarah, who is described as overtly fine, "sensible, courageous, and very beautiful." Beneath the surface, however (and through perhaps no fault of her own), she harbored a demon -- one that even killed her husbands. And so it is: "bad" things not only happen to good people, but bad spirits can be attached to them. We all have our "issues." Prayer, the help of angels, and an honest introspection, searching for interior failings and praying for deliverance from them (especially as we begin a new year; Sarah was delivered by the Archangel Raphael), save the day. But before cleansing must come the awareness and humility -- both fruits of prayer -- to acknowledge it.
[resources: The God of Healing]