These are red letter words, recorded by Matthew, from the mouth of Jesus:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:15-20
And…. what is good fruit?
Galatians 5:22 defines the Fruit of the Spirit as…..“love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
When Jesus preached, he told his listeners to watch for the people who look good on the outside, but are rotten on the inside. Don’t we see people like this all the time? They look good and they talk just right. They make us believe that they have good intentions. Unfortunately there are many people in the church today who put on their happy faces and preach love, but when faced with a person or group that does not agree with their particular politics or “brand of Christianity,” they suddenly turn to spiteful, hateful people – all in the name of God. I was taught to watch for the wolves in sheep’s clothing outside the church, but the more I observe, the more I realize that some of those wolves were right there in the church, while lots of sheep were peacefully living outside the church. People who didn’t “look like church people” were loving God and others as much as themselves by actually being God’s hands and feet, while some wolves who looked right on the outside were actually rotten with hatred on the inside.
Last week I picked up a beautiful watermelon at a local produce stand. I thumped it, and it sounded just right! It was bright green and heavy, and just begging for me to take it home with me to enjoy. I got it home, and cut it up. It was a beautiful color, and it smelled heavenly. It appeared to be a good fruit. It had everything going for it! It seemed perfect!
Then, I took a bite. It was sour. I dug deeper into the heart searching for the sweetness it had promised me by its appearance. NOPE. Still sour. Not worth eating – at all!
This was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It was a bad fruit despite all it’s promises.
Heard of Ugly Produce? Case in point that the outward appearance of a fruit or vegetable isn’t the tell-all. A little bruise or imperfection here and there on the outside doesn’t make something a bad fruit. In fact, some of the best fruit I’ve ever tasted didn’t look perfect on the outside, and some of the worst fruit I’ve ever tasted was flawless on the outside!
FORBEARANCE (tolerance, patience).
These are the inward fruits of the spirit, that are borne by a true relationship with The Father. These display themselves by someone’s actions and the way they treat others – especially the ones who are least like themselves. These are the fruits of the sheep, not the wolves.
We shall know them by their fruit. God is love, and He imparts His Spirit on those who love Him. Therefore, those who truly know God will display the Fruits of the Spirit.
Let us recognize our fellow sheep, not by their outward appearance, but by their outward expression of their spirit. And let us BE the fruits of the SPIRIT to one another.