In computer science and mathematics, Garbage In, Garbage Out describes the concept that flawed or nonsense input data produces nonsense output or “garbage.” In other words, inaccurate or faulty information at the start will inevitably lead to inaccurate or faulty results.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said something remarkably similar: “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”1
This brief parable invites us to consider what our words and actions say about us and the Savior who lives within us. Do our lives express His care for others or our own self-centeredness? Do we communicate His generosity and justice, or do we default to the human impulse to build walls and exclude?
Like computer code and mathematical equations can be fixed by correcting the input data, Jesus reminds us that Christian living requires interior transformation, the kind that only He can bring about. “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”2
Jesus In, Jesus Out.3
1. Matthew 7:17–18,20 NLT
2. John 15:4 NIV
3. The editor would like to thank regular Activated contributor Chris Mizrany for inspiring the analogy in this intro.