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.
Hard times bring out the best and the worst in people. In the same way, the true condition of a person’s heart becomes more visible during times of crisis. As our nation has stumbled through the pandemic and faced the fires of racial injustice, people have been forced to take a stand and to put their words into action in ways that reveal what lives inside their hearts. Some of what has emerged has been beautiful and inspiring. Some has been ugly and sad.
Jesus is never fooled by pretense. He sees right through hypocrisy. Jesus knows what is in people’s hearts and can immediately tell the difference between good fruit and bad. We like this about Jesus, because it means that bad people with insincere hearts won’t get away with their deceptions and grandstanding. Then again, neither will we.
In another place, Jesus said his followers are like branches growing out of him, who is the true vine (John 15:1-8). So long as we stay connected to him, we will be fruitful, but if we wander away and become disconnected from the Vine, we won’t be able to produce anything good. That’s how it is with good trees, too. If you keep yourself rooted in the rich soil of God’s word, drink deeply of the Spirit’s living water and let God’s glory shine down on you, then you will remain healthy and be able to do good things that please God and show genuine love to others. Being a good tree doesn’t come naturally for us, but staying connected to Jesus through prayer, worship and spiritual devotion keeps us rooted and healthy. That’s the only way to live a truly good life, with a good heart that produces good fruit.
Father, You are good all the time. Help me to stay connected to Jesus and to do what is good in Your sight. Teach me to love others and to make Your world better through my actions and my words. I pray this in Jesus’ name and for His glory. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian