March 13th, 2013: The Twenty-Fifth Day of Lent
March 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
“You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
In warning about false prophets, Christ tells his audience to observe the “fruit” of ministers. He uses the concept of fruit and plants and the idea that certain plants produce certain kinds of fruit. We would be shocked if apples started growing on cornstalks, wouldn’t we? That’s the idea that Christ is after.
As disciples, we need to be aware not just of what a minister preaches; we need to be aware of other facets of their lives as well to see if their living agrees with or conflicts their message. This is how false prophets can be identified. Does a minister say one thing and do another? Such ministers may not have the best interests of the Kingdom in mind.
The difficult issue here is that people aren’t perfect, and ministers are no exception to this rule. It’s amazing what God can accomplish through broken people – in fact, the amazing thing is that God often chooses broken people to accomplish his purposes. The difference here is that broken people know they’re broken. Remember the first Beatitude? Our entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven starts with our realization that we are truly spiritually bankrupt and can do nothing on our own strength.
If we backpedal a bit to Matthew 3.8, we find this verse: “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” A slightly more literal translation, such as the NRSV, says this: “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” Bearing good fruit doesn’t mean that you’re perfect, but it does mean that you’re living a lifestyle of surrender to God. It does mean that you live in humility. It does mean that you’re intentionally seeking Christ’s Kingdom and recognizing that you, and the rest of the world, need the help and redemption that only the Almighty can provide.
Lord Christ, please help me to be discerning regarding who and what I listen to. Help me to be able to find good ministers, who truly live by your realities. Amen.