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“Known by Fruit”
How do you tell who is an elite athlete or musician? Some might say they are the ones who out-perform everyone else, and there is some truth to that. They are also the ones who day-in and day-out put in the time and effort to stay at that level. They are consistently good at all aspects of their craft, and they prove they have what it takes through their actions, skill, and determination.
Disciples of Jesus are not looking to be the greatest, but they should be living a life that proves to the world that they are followers of Christ. Their actions, and not just their words, consistently show that they belong to Jesus and love him. This is not an easy task though. Jesus says that the gateway into the kingdom of heaven is narrow and few enter in (7:13). Yet, the gateway that leads to destruction is wide and many enter into it (v. 14). That means there are far more not doing God’s will than those who are. In fact, Jesus goes on to warn the disciples about false prophets in their midst that at first glance look like, and sound like, they worship and follow God, but are really not true disciples (7:15). Instead, their lives are characterized by lawlessness (v. 23). How can you really tell?
Jesus says that you will know by the “fruit” that they produce. Meaning, does a person consistently live a life of repentance (3:8), obeying all of Jesus’ teachings? Or, do they turn away from God and refuse to follow his commands? Jesus assures them that a good tree (i.e. disciple) produces good fruit (i.e. works), but a bad tree produces bad fruit (7:17-18). There are many who will say that they acknowledge God and say they perform all sorts of miracles (v. 21-22), but their actions will prove who they really are. It is the one who actually does the will of God that will enter into his kingdom, not the one who simply gives lip-service to God, but practices wickedness (v. 21, 23).
Just like a gifted athlete or musician proves they are legit by their consistent play, a person who is truly following God will show the world that they love him by the godly fruit that they produce every day. They do it not just by words, or an occasional good deed, but by their daily actions.
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