When I lived in the jungle of Peru we had a citrus tree with huge round fruit – up to 10 inches in diameter. The yellow-orange balls looked like they should be the juiciest oranges on the planet. But when you cut that fruit open you find that the rind is four inches of bitter dry sponge. Beneath the rind is small clump of dry pulp, no juice and of no use whatsoever.

The metaphor of fruit is used throughout the Bible. In both Old and New Testaments, it is used to represent the means for evaluating the quality of a person or a ministry. The fruit that one produces can be of great quality and glorify God or it can be fruit that is useless, undesirable, and lead to darkness. In Matthew 7 Jesus makes the statement “you will know them by their fruit”. In this context Jesus is warning His disciples about false prophets, those that make claims about themselves or about God that are not true and are not consistent with the teachings of Christ. Jesus compares these charlatans to trees, telling His disciples that they can evaluate the quality of the tree by considering whether or not its fruit aligns with the character of God.

So how do we know when a teacher or preacher or leader or politician is a good tree? The New Living Translation says “you can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.” We know from other scriptures that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. These should be the first things we look for in our leaders. But there is another clue in Matthew 7. These fakers look like sheep but in reality they are dangerous wolves. So sometimes we might see in these false leaders or teachers things that look like good fruit. The real test is what we find when we dig inside that fruit. Do we indeed see actions and qualities that align consistently with Scripture and the character of God? These wolves in sheep's clothing are sometimes earnest. But because their hearts are not aligned  with God’s, they cannot bear good fruit. Each of us has people that we follow whether in church and in other contexts. We should be watching and considering the fruit our leaders produce – their words and behavior. Is in the same way, each of us influences and lead others in some way. We should also consider the fruit that others are observing in us. Because as Jesus implied to His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, others will know us by our fruit.

by Jim Roberts, Deacon

No Comments






no tags