Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: https://sothrichfield.podbean.com/
Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV)
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
On two occasions in Matthew, this passage in chapter 7 as well as in chapter 12:37, Jesus teaches that God’s faithful people can be identified by “their fruits”. This was a favorite passage of Martin Luther’s. He used it to explain the relationship between having a relationship with Christ, and doing good deeds. First off, the relationship comes first. We become ‘good trees’ when we put down roots into God’s Word, and deepen our relationship with Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to nourish us and grow us into Christ-likeness. Once that happens the Spirit enables us to bear ‘good fruit’, which consists of things like obedience to God’s will, and eagerly serving others, sacrificing ourselves for others like Jesus sacrificed for us. However, if we are not ‘bearing good fruit’, it is a sign that we are deceiving ourselves, and are not true Christians. If we truly know Jesus, we will know Jesus as Lord, and we will do everything in our power to do his will – which leads to the good fruit of sacrificing ourselves for God’s Kingdom work. Pray for God to reawaken or deepen your appreciation of Christ as Lord, and remove the barriers of sin which keep you from fully giving yourselves to others for Jesus’ sake.