Read Matthew 7:15-23
My wife and I were in southwest Italy one time, celebrating our 25th Anniversary. There were endless amounts of orange and lemon trees dotting the coastlines of the places that we went. They were beautiful and there was no doubt what kind of trees they were, even from a distance. Due to the fact that I, Ohio born and raised, am not used to seeing trees other than the ones that leave leaves in my yard, I drew a new connection to Jesus’ words from this passage.
Jesus compares false teachers and those who preach the truth to trees. He states that we are to beware of people that preach a false message and we will know who they are by the fruit they bear. He likens false teachers to wolves in sheep’s clothing, waiting to devour. His visual descriptor is vivid and His purpose is clear: to get into the Kingdom, you can’t follow them. It is powerful to envision that the road to destruction is wide and many will fit on it, but the gate to get into the Kingdom is narrow and only a few get in.
Anybody can claim to be of God… and lots of people do. We are inundated with messages daily from those who claim to be of Him with prophesying a kingdom built on “needed” financial luxuries, moral progression and patriotic duties. They promise us that this can be found in Scripture or that this is how God really is. They seek to convince us that the Words of God found in the Bible must be met with a question, “Did God really say…?”.
How do we avoid this pitfall and highway to hell in exchange for fidelity to the true kingdom of God? We must cling to Jesus’ words found in Matthew 7, the way in which He lived His life and measure the words of others’ claims and their lifestyles against His.
If Christians and the churches that they belong to were supposed to be built on luxury, moral progression and patriotic duty, then why didn’t Jesus say that this was the fruit to look for? Furthermore, why didn’t He model it?
The Bible describes the kind of life, the one that has good fruit, fruit that can be seen by anyone who sees the tree. When you encounter someone claiming to be of God, check to see how their life and words measure up to the fruits of the Spirit talked about in Galatians 5. Do the people demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit (like Jesus did), or is it visible, even from far away, that they demonstrate something else? What kind of fruit are you producing?