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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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"A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad."—Matthew 12:33 (NLT)
Let me paint you a little mental picture: You’re at home, hungry for a snack. You want something sweet, but not über sugary and calorie filled. Something healthy. You get to the fridge and open the door.
Carrots? Healthy, but not sweet, so no.
Nutella cheesecake? Oh yeah, jackp . . . No! Self-control. Too sweet. Must resist.
And then you see it like a radiant sunrise . . . a package of fresh, sweet, healthy strawberries. Perfection. Then . . . you open up the plastic container and see rotten strawberries. They’re mushy, moldy, and miserable.
Has this ever happened to me? It has happened to me a handful of times. And every time, the result is the same: The strawberries have to be thrown out. Why? Because no one wants rotten fruit.
In Matthew, Jesus tells us that, like a bad tree is identified by its rotten fruit (12:33), those who are false prophets will be known by their rotten fruit (7:15–20). Oh, they may try to deceive you; their exterior plastic packaging may look really good. But once you open it up and examine the fruit, you’ll see the rottenness that lies within.
Jesus’ words here act as a warning for us. Essentially, He’s imploring us to always conduct the fruit test. If you’ve ever watched someone shop for fruit in the supermarket, you know what that is. I’ve seen people open up the package, squeeze the fruits, smell them, I’ve even seen people pick a grape or strawberry and eat it just to see the condition of the fruit.
This is what we need to do with the spiritual messages we’re fed. Whether from the world, our friends, or even pastors and churches . . . we need to “test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world” (1 John 4:1 NLT). How do we test them? 1) Through His Word. By comparing what is being said with the in-context truth of God’s Word, and 2) through prayer and the Spirit.
Just like bad trees, false prophets can be known by their fruit, the same is true of believers. John 15 calls us branches that can produce no fruit apart from Him. If we remain in Him, we will produce good fruit and people will be able to taste and see that the Lord is good! So, can you pass the fruit test?
DIG: Read Matthew 7:15–20, John 15:1–17, and 1 John 4.
DISCOVER: How can you identify bad fruit from good fruit?
DISPLAY: What kind of fruit are you producing? Is it good fruit? Bad fruit? No fruit? Ask three trusted friends to conduct the fruit test on your life.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.