05 February 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: Matthew 7:15-20 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Matthew 7:15–20 NLT)
False prophets, like wolves dressed as sheep, appear to be harmless. They look like part of the flock, when in reality they are predators who prey on the flock. We can identify them by their actions, but not always by their appearance. No grapes from thorn bushes, no figs from thistles… If the tree is good, the fruit will be good. You can identify a tree by its fruit, and you can identify people by their actions.
Jesus told us in Matthew 7:1-6 not to judge! Now he tells us you can identify people by their actions. Some things in life require judgments: Whom to hire to sell your house. Whom to trust to repair your car. Who is and who isn’t a trustworthy friend. To make these necessary judgments requires fruit inspection.
A good tree produces good fruit. Give it time, check the fruit, and you’ll know if it’s good. Jesus said this is about people! If you can’t tell from their appearance or their history, you’ll certainly know by watching what they do. People will eventually act out what’s inside them. Give it time and you’ll know.
You can’t always tell by outward appearance. So don’t be too quick to judge!
Fruit we want to find in ourselves and in others we choose to trust: 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22–23 NLT)
Father, It’s hard to live in the tension between “Judge not, or you will be judged” and “You can identify people by their actions.” I know the first is judging on outward appearance and the other on actions sourced in the heart. Help me and my friends to be discerning fruit inspectors, but not critical and judgmental of others. Is that possible?