15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you dressed like sheep, but inside they are vicious wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruit. Do people get bunches of grapes from thorny weeds, or do they get figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, and every rotten tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit. And a rotten tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore, you will know them by their fruit.
21 “Not everybody who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 On the Judgment Day, many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name and expel demons in your name and do lots of miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I’ll tell them, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you people who do wrong.’
Last week the arborist cut down most of our pine trees. At first they looked perfectly fine, then sap began oozing out of the trunks and the needles turned yellow. A week later the needles turned brown and fell off, leaving bare trees. They were killed from the inside out by a southern beetle infestation. The pines were chopped down and had to be destroyed because they would infest other trees.
Jesus is warning his followers about false teachers. They may appear on the outside to be sheep and harmless, but inside they are really dangerous wolves who will fleece us and lead us astray. Jesus says we can spot the false teachers because they bear bad fruit. This fruit Jesus is talking about is spiritual fruit. We are given grace to believe in Jesus and are redeemed, but that is not where we stop. God expects us to continue our spiritual growth, and we are expected to bear good fruit. How do we know what is good fruit? We produce good fruit when we are obedient to God’s will and follow the example of Jesus. Good fruit brings glory to God. If all the credit for the good that we do is going to us, then we are Christians in name only, and this is bad fruit. This is why Jesus says that at the final judgment many will say they did wonderful things in his name, but it was for their own glory, not God’s. Jesus says they will be denied entrance into heaven.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Are you producing good fruit? Or do you need to be pruned of certain things that keep you from producing the good fruit that God expects from you? What can you do to grow spiritually? Perhaps you can attend church regularly, join a Bible study or a small group, participate in a missions project, or many other opportunities to learn, serve and grow.
Prayer: Gracious and Loving God, I want to bear good fruit for you. Lead me in the direction you want me to go so I can continue to grow spiritually, serve humbly, and bring you glory. Amen.