Produce the Evidence
15Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.— Matthew 7:15-20
You probably have heard that old maxim, “If someone were to accuse you of being a Christian, could you produce enough evidence to be convicted?” I know it’s a cliché, but it really is so true. I mean, what is the proof that we are physically alive? You have plenty of evidence: you were born, are mentally aware, and spend life doing things. There is the spiritual life as well. Spiritual birth produces spiritual life that produces spiritual fruit. Jesus points out an obvious fact in verse 16. Grapes aren’t produced by thornbushes, nor are figs produced from thistles. And He goes to say, “Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17).
This begs the question; what kind of fruit, or evidence, does our life produce? Would it be considered healthy or diseased? To answer this, we need to know what diseased fruit looks like in the spiritual realm. Galatians 5:19-21 lists several examples of bad fruit including sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, jealousy, fits of rage, and envy to name a few. If any of these fruits are common or recurring in our lives, then we should ask ourselves why.
We also need to know what the good fruit looks like. Galatians 5:22 lists the fruits of the Spirit. They include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Are these fruits showing up in our life increasingly? To be completely accurate, we need to ask those around us. It might be pretty convicting.
Every person that has ever lived has exhibited both types of fruit. The Lord Jesus says we will know whether others follow Him by the fruit they produce or the evidence they give. It would be a sad day indeed if you knew someone for any length of time and they did NOT know you are a Christian.
In the end, it all comes down to this: if your faith hasn’t changed you, then your faith hasn’t saved you. Now I’m not talking about struggling with certain sins. We all have those sins that we will continue to struggle with. That’s why we need grace, right? What I’m talking about is evaluating whether we are struggling less over the years with that one sin. Or are we exhibiting increasing amounts of patience and self-control? Could we be convicted?—Trent Griffith
· As I look over the list of good and diseased fruit as listed in Galatians 5, which type of fruit do I think I exhibit more?
· Who will I ask to confirm this?
Prayer – Dear Father, as I review these lists of fruits, I am convicted of areas where I need to repent and change. Lord, I want to produce enough evidence that there would be no doubt who I love most. Forgive me for each of the bad fruits I exhibit and help me to replace those with the beautiful and sweet fruits You promise to give to those who love You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.