Read Matthew 7:15-29
“By their fruit you will recognize them.”
According to Jesus, that statement is not only true of trees and vegetation, but also of people. Grapes don’t grow on thorn bushes. Figs are not produced on thistle plants. The fruit will be consistent with the type of plant. In like fashion, genuine Christ followers will produce fruit consistent with their identity.
To be sure, the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22, 23) is perhaps one of most obvious evidences of true disciples. In today’s reading, however, Jesus goes in a different direction. He even calls into question two ideas that, to many, might be considered conclusive proof.
- Some people just simply claim a relationship with Jesus. There are those who refer to Him as “Lord.” But a genuine commitment to Christ is more than having the right verbage.
- Some people point to evidence of ministry on His behalf. Some of those ministries may appear to be flashy, sacrificial, and helpful. Still, that is not the final convincing evidence that Jesus gives.
So what is it that Jesus points to as the true fruit of His followers?
Yes, it is that simple. It is evidenced by the person “who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (v. 21). It is clear in the one who does more than hear the teachings of Christ (vv. 24-27). The real fruit is demonstrated by the person who hears and does what Christ teaches. If your life is characterized by mere knowledge of His teaching and not by a response to that teaching, there may be cause for concern.
That is not to suggest, however, that we are rescued from eternal judgment by acts of obedience. That is not it at all. It is only through faith in the work of Christ that we receive forgiveness from our past, purpose in our present, and hope for our future. Meanwhile, acts of obedience are the fruits that flow from a truly transformed life. It is only this kind of life that will withstand the peril of divine judgment.