This Biblical Truth Is SO Important For Christians To Remember!

As in the Old Testament, in Matthew’s time there were those who claimed to speak in the name of God. These were called prophets. There were those who were truly so, of course, but there were also those “prophets” who were false and dangerous. He called them wolves in sheep’s clothing. Matthew is reinforcing the idea here of how important it is for us to be able to discern the difference in our own time.

Matthew also gives us the means for being able to discern the difference. “You will know them by their fruits.” He uses an artful metaphor to reinforce this idea. He uses a fruit tree saying that, “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” (verse 18) In other words, the “fruits” of words and deeds are recognizable in their consequences. This is a very important lesson for all of us. Those who call themselves Christians, who love as Jesus loved, who make a difference for the good in the world; those who love, even at the cost of suffering, will bear fruits that will be recognizably good. Those who say that they know and love God, but whose actions do not coincide with their words, will bear fruits that are injurious, insincere, and manipulative of the innocent. Those who use God’s words of love for their own aggrandizement, or for material gain, will bear fruits that are sterile, or poisonous.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he/she who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter.” (verse 21) The fruits of our actions and words are directly related to our interior motivation. God, of course, knows our motivations. Though we may be able to hide them, or disguise them from others for our selfish purposes, he will know them. This is something that deserves a believer’s focused attention.

We do not control another’s motivations. We can only be truly aware of our own. Will we be trees that bear good fruit, or not? Is our faith sincere? Is it deeply rooted, watered, and nourished by a sincere prayer life, by prayerful attention to God’s word in the scriptures, by our regular attendance in church, by our humble recognition of our own sinfulness and our constant need for God’s loving grace? If it is, he will give us the graces we need to bear good fruit in all that we say and do. One need not reflect on the opposite possibility. It is clear. Bad fruit has no life in it. Rot and decay are at its core. The message of this passage is about recognizing the differences in this life, so that we will not be led astray, but its message is also pointed at the survival of eternal souls.

Lord, we pray that you give us the graces we need to be trees that bear good fruit in our daily lives. Give us the wisdom we need to be able to discern the fruits of those who are false and of those who are your true, humble sons and daughters. We yearn in the depths of our hearts to be your good and faithful servants. We pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.