April 28 - Matthew 7:15-20

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 28 - Matthew 7:15-20

“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.”

I was talking to a friend the other day about some fruit trees that she has planted in the past. They are all gone now and she wonders if the soil at her house is a problem. Some lasted two or three years, some longer, some shorter periods of time.

As we talked about this, I remember my mom desperately wanting to plant different types of fruit trees and having them all fail within a few short years, long before we got to enjoy whatever fruit they would bear.  We even tried growing an indoor lemon tree once … to no avail.

I’m by no means a gardener, but I know that growing fruit trees isn't simply a matter of putting seeds in a ground, watering it once in a while and waiting for it to shoot up and bring forth good fruit.  Maybe that happens in different climates than what we have in the Midwest, but they require a lot more effort and work than many other types of trees.  You have to care for them and ensure that they receive the right amount of water and sunshine. You have to protect them when they’re young from the elements.  You prune them and encourage them to grow. You invest time and effort.

You wouldn't do this if you knew it was a bad tree and would never produce fruit. You’d start over. If you knew that the tree would produce good fruit with a little effort and better fruit with more effort, you would extend yourself to assure its success.

Not only does Jesus tell us here to be aware of false prophets, those who look like good trees on the outside, but only tell lies; but he tells us that we can see by the fruit they produce whether or not they are worthwhile.  And once we recognize that, we need to quit expending effort encouraging those who aren't worth our while and ensure that we care about those people who are producing excellent fruit.