Have you ever been in an apple orchard when the trees are first ready for picking? The fruit can be so thick in the tree that you can literally reach the top branches with your feet still on the ground. By the time most of the apples are harvested, the tree is nearly unrecognizable.
Reading Matthew 7 reminds us of a very important truth that is often neglected. Christ teaches that there are many people that will look like they are thriving Christians when in reality they have bad fruit. He warns of false teachers that will put on a front in order to lead others away from the truths of Scripture. How can we know who is authentic?
Many people take the route that all Christians are hypocrites. While that is true to some extent, the baby is definitely going out with the bath water with that approach. Jesus said, “By their fruits, you shall know them.” That means what is truly going on in the heart will eventually evidence itself in their actions. We must take the time to evaluate their actions to determine their authenticity. Not with the intent of pointing fingers, but as a way to offer help.
But that is judgmental! Doesn’t Christ start this conversation in verse one by saying “Judge not?” He does, but there is more to that statement. If you look at the following verses you will see that He was admonishing believers to only judge others by the same standard that they would also wish to be judged. That standard has to be God’s Word. Therefore, when Christ tells us to judge whether someone is authentic in their walk with Him, we need to follow His instruction on how to do so.
There is one final and extremely important point with this command. Before you start judging others, be sure to start with yourself. We will never make fair judgments if we are already in a poor position. By getting right with God, we have access to the only One who can truly do what needs to be done.
May your fruit grow and shine as you continue to…
Walk in Him.