There are many plants in the world that have beautiful leaves and flowers and berries that may seem very attractive to the eye, but which are in fact very bad for us. I think immediately of the rhubarb plant. The stems and roots are good to eat but the leaves are poisonous, even if they are showy and impressive.
Unfortunately the same can be said of people who dress themselves as Christians, but who are in fact quite malicious. It is this type of person Jesus warns about in Matthew. What is his warning? How will we know good people? What will a truly devoted Christian produce?
Most everyone is familiar with the expression of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” The concept is that outwardly the person looks nice and friendly, but on the inside there is wickedness and corruption. Although Jesus was talking specifically about those who teach about faith, the same can be said of many people who fill the pews on a Sunday morning.
By appearances one might say this person or that is a Christian, but we must look beyond the outward appearance and examine the fruit – the actions and attitudes. It has been said that sitting in a church pew doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sleeping in the garage makes you a ’57 Chevy.
To be a Christian we must believe as a Christian, think as a Christian, and act like a Christian. We must guard against allowing ourselves to be like the false prophets. We must guard against our faith being superficial – merely attending church and toting a big Bible.
To be Christian we must look intently into the perfect law of God, keep ourselves firmly rooted and directed by the teachings of Christ, and follow the example of service and care that Jesus has set for us.
Living a life as a Christian – showing mercy and care for others, sharing the love of God to others, having a truly compassionate and caring heart, being willing to sacrifice for others – will ensure that we bear good fruit for God’s kingdom.
DAILY CHALLENGE: Examine the fruit you produce. Is it good fruit? How do you know?