Intro: I’m a veggie and fruit eater. I love salads filled with all kinds of goodies (no cheese, please) and delicious fresh fruit is like dessert for me because I really do not crave refined sugar sweets. Scripture teaches us a lot about fruit, but just like when we go grocery shopping, not all fruit is good to eat. Sometimes fruit looks really good on the outside, but is rotten on the inside. Let’s remember there was righteous seed-bearing fruit, as well as good-looking unrighteous fruit in the Garden of Eden.
Today, as Christ’s followers, we are to hunger for God’s goodness and produce the righteous fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Producing the fruit of God’s love— is a commandment in the life of Christ’s followers (John 13:34). Love for God leads us to obey his commands (1 John 5:3). Authentic love for our neighbor leads us to push aside our selfishness to come along side others and share the gospel of peace that is available with God through Christ (Mat 22:35). Fruit production is about character and actions and we lead others to God with the good fruit of the Spirit of Truth. Actions speak louder than words.
In the Old Testament, prophets brought messages to the king and the people. The king was responsible for seeing to it that God’s will was done among the people. So God provided prophets to help guide the people. Some prophets—called anointed prophets—genuinely shared a message from God for the king, so he could lead the people toward righteousness. This was not always a popular message, because it shined a light on the people’s sin and many times these prophets were killed in order to silence them. Some other prophets—called false prophets—were deceptive; they came saying they had a message from God, but in reality they arrived to share a message that everyone wanted to hear and would make the prophet popular. Their message never addressed sin in the light of the truth.
In our passage today, Jesus is concluding his Sermon on the Mount where he has been guiding people in recognizing righteous actions that please God, as well as warning them about unrighteousness that is being taught by false prophets. Therefore, Jesus wants the people to know how to tell the difference in their teachers. Jesus instructs his people to continue to move forward in the truth—walking the narrow way into God’s presence and Kingdom living (Mat 7:13). Live the truth, today!
Matthew 7:15-20 NLT The Tree and Its Fruit
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 thornbushes, 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.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving us a hunger for spiritual fruit. Please continue to help us produce the fruit of righteous living. May our actions identify the fruit of the Spirit living within us. Fill us with your love, today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.