March 16th, 2013: The Twenty-Eighth Day of Lent

March 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”

~Matthew 7.20~

Actions and fruit should be seen in the same way, Christ says. Actions can be seen as the outward manifestations of what goes on inside a person, just as fruit is the result of many inner processes of a tree or plant. The interesting thing here is that sermons don’t count as fruit. Books don’t count as fruit. Camp-meeting style revivals shouldn’t be seen as fruit.

How does one live, day in and day out? That’s fruit. It’s no coincidence that in Galatians 5, Paul uses the same kind of imagery.  What is the fruit of God’s presence in one’s life? We may have heard them before, but it never hurts to hear it again: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Do you see this good fruit in ministers? Then they are ministers worth following. Good ministers enter the ministry because they want to help God’s Kingdom come to earth. They don’t enter the ministry because they enjoy positions of leadership, or because they need their egos stroked, or because they’re trying to get into people’s checkbooks, or for any other number of reasons.

Eugene Peterson in The Message translates Matthew 7.15, 16 like this: “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.”

What does this say about those who seek out positions of ministry? And what does this say about us, who are acting as ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven? This is scary stuff, in a sense; yet, as we said earlier, it should lead us to growth and repentance, not to fear.

Lord Christ, please help me to grow, and never stop pointing out ways that I may. Lead me to follow leaders who follow you, and you alone. Help me be more sensitive to those who are in the game for their own purposes. Amen. 

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