By Katie Runnels
I believe that humanity has long looked at the wrong thing when placing value on the “wisdom” found in certain individuals. I have found this hugely true in “religious” circles. Jesus tells us very clearly that we need to be careful not to look at mere appearances. We need to look at the “fruit” a person bears.
What is fruit? Fruit is offspring. For example, the offspring of an apple tree is apples.
True and False Prophets (Matthew 7)
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Here is an analogy to further explicate the above message:
Let’s say, for example, I spend a year tilling a plot of land in preparation for planting an apple orchard. Finally, after hundreds of hours of hard labor, I plant a seed. I water it. A seed sprouts up through the ground.. I protect the seedling. I water and protect the baby tree, nurture it through adulthood, and after years of hard work, the tree starts to bear apples. I pick an apple, and it tastes delicious! I then share the apple with my friends and family. The tree produced fruit, and the fruit makes the world a better place.
This is different from buying a tree, hanging a bunch of apple shaped ornaments on it, and bragging about how wonderful your apple tree is. This is fake. This is not true, edible fruit. People cannot eat tree ornaments and be nourished. On the contrary, the fake apples are most likely poison to the human body. Fake fruit is equivalent to no fruit.
Jesus says we need to check the “apples” of a person carefully before we take a bite.
According the above teaching, it is our responsibility to distinguish between the real fruit and the fake fruit. What does this look like? What does fake fruit look like in a human being?
The “fruit” I believe Jesus is looking for is behavior that reflects Christ himself. Any action that reflects divine Love. Jesus said: love God with your whole heart, mind soul; love your neighbor as you love yourself. SIMPLE. SO SIMPLE. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
Yet it so overlooked….
Christ is inclusive, forgiving, all merciful, and not territorial. If Christ is willing to let his ego die a slow and painful death on a cross, shouldn’t we (proclaiming followers of Christ) be willing to do the same?
Let’s practice listening to people whose lives radiate love, peace, and joy. These people might not look like “prophets,” but they are the true teachers. Maybe it is a child! Maybe it is your neighbor or your non-religious friend! Look at the fruit in a person’s life rather than superficial images and appearances. Be careful from whom you take advice.
Prayer: Lord, give us discernment, humility, and insight. Give us eyes to see past the appearances in this world. Give us wisdom to see the fruit. May we have eyes to see the Truth. In the name of Jesus our Lord and Savior, amen.