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.
One’s work as a Christian “bearing fruit” is a very churchy way to think about following God’s call in our life. In today’s section of the “Sermon on the Mount”, we look at this warning against those who try to convince others to follow their will instead of God’s guidance. And here, Jesus says that these people may know the right things to say and appear righteous, but the fruit they bear reveal the truth. Someone with bad intentions, who is aiming towards personal gain instead of the collective good, may not be bearing the fruit we think they are.
There are times in my life when I was fighting God’s guidance, actively running from God’s calling on my heart. The lack of fruit I was bearing told me a lot. It’s not that life was all bad, or that there was no joy in my life, but just that I often felt like I was running in circles. I was working really hard, trying to make things work, and kept finding myself lacking fruit.
Once I accepted God’s guidance, stopped trying to fight God’s call for my own will, the fruit overflowed. And that’s not to say everything was perfect: there was loss and tiredness and grief, but the fruit was undeniable. Good kept growing even when goodness seemed distance.
So this text does warn us about who we are following, but also warns us to look at the fruit our own life bears and whether it is born of God’s guidance.
by Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
What does this idea of “bearing fruit” mean to you? What has that looked like in your own spiritual journey?
Prayer: Holy Lord, we give thanks for the fruit that comes to life in Your path. Guide us through that path so that we may be a part of the growth of the kingdom of God. Amen.