“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it. “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit.A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit. Matthew 7:13-20 HCSB
Thanking God for Holy Spirit early this morning! As always, I seek a “word” from Him in order to organize my thoughts and write my daily blog. This morning, the word that came up in my spirit, was “wolf” and I immediately had a title–Tyrant In a Suit! But then as I started reading The Word, Holy Spirit reminded me–not only that we have to be careful of the tyrants and false prophets, but if we are watchful, we will recognize them by their fruit–or what they do and the company they keep.
Most of us are familiar with the saying, “birds of a feather flock together” and quote it often when we assess what a person is like. Can we tell if a person is charitable or stingy? Can we tell if a person is honorable or dishonorable? Can we tell if a person is trustworthy or not to be trusted? Can we tell if a person is honest or a liar?
There are so many ways and benchmarks by which we can use to assess who a person really is–not just who they tell us they are. For I am a firm believer that if we are who we think we are, we have no need to tell anyone anything–people will recognize who we are by our actions.
In the above passage of scripture, Jesus is teaching about entering into the kingdom of Heaven. On this journey called life, we can either follow the crowd and fall into the pit of destruction or follow the remnant who are determined to live according to God’s ways. The choice is ours and He gives us guidelines by which we can know which direction we’re taking.
There are those who “dress up”hate and bigotry behind the external appearances that hides who they are. The make-up, the plastic surgery, the expensive clothing (the person makes the clothes look good, not the other way around), tanning beds, wigs and hair transplants and weaves–all designed to make a person look to the casual observer, but do nothing to change who the person really is. Unfortunately, too many people judge a person by what they say or their outer appearance without looking at the person, their surroundings or their cohorts. We tend to judge unfairly–both the person in the suit and the person in rags–without knowing who they really are.
According to The Word–we can determine who they are by their fruit–the outcome or results of what they say or do. If what they do or say produces–good or bad–that is going to be the sum total of who they are, no matter how they try to hide their true selves. But we can be assured of accurate assessment of a person’s character when we use the Fruit of The Spirit as a measuring stick. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22,23 HCSB And the verses before this–explain the works of the flesh.
I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious:sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance — as I told you before — that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:16-21 HCSB
Now, I suggest that we look carefully at a person–and those they surround themselves with–to get a true picture of the character within–and not at the exterior.
Do they exhibit/demonstrate unconditional love towards others or do they promote hatred and bigotry? Is their joy obtained by helping others or helping themselves? Do they encourage an environment of peace or do they provoke drama and mistrust? Are they patience with others or are they always impatient with others? Do we see demonstrations of kindness for no reason or is everything they do have an agenda? Do we see goodness in their behavior and actions towards others? Is their faith in God or themselves or others? Is there a measure of gentleness seen in their deeds or heard in their words? Do we see a model of self-controlled discipline or is their behavior erratic and unstable?
People who live in glass houses should not throw stones since those stones can be rerouted and the houses shattered. The same is true for people who have criticized others–especially the President of the United States–they cannot expect others not to look closely at them and with the same measure of critique they have expounded, it comes back to them–if and when they, too hold public office.
Are we good trees producing good fruit or bad trees producing bad fruit? Do others recognize who we are by what we do? In the end, God’s judgment will determine whether we’re consumed in the fire or enter into the gates of heaven.