2.56 - Judge By Fruit

              Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 56 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House.  This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes, or so, we are going to talk about judging by fruit.

            In Matthew 7:15-20 CSB Jesus says, “[15] ‘Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. [16] You'll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? [17] In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. [18] A good tree can't produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. [19] Every tree that doesn't produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. [20] So you'll recognize them by their fruit.’”

            Jesus is saying that we can, and should, judge others by the results of their actions.  Are they bringing about good and pleasant things?  Are they setting people free from bondage and helping them grow?  Or are they making others twice the slave they are?  Are they spreading contention and strife?  Are they teaching others to believe in fantasy and preaching only what people want to hear?

This is important because if someone is producing good fruit then we should join them in spreading that and this is the kind of person we should keep around to make us better people.  If they’re producing rotten fruit, then we need to distance ourselves from their actions and protect ourselves from being influenced by them.  If we’re considering donating money to a ministry or non-profit, then it’s important to know if they are producing good fruit before we donate.

For instance, I’m pro-life, in every sense of the term; I oppose war and the death penalty, and I don’t support abortion.  I believe any organization that’s participating in these acts is producing rotten fruit.  Therefore, I wouldn’t donate to Planned Parenthood, nor would I donate to Susan G Komen since they then turn around and donate large sums of money to Planned Parenthood.  I’ve heard the objection, that Komen only donates specifically for breast cancer screenings and mammogram referrals.  Except that Planned Parenthood isn’t organized in a way that makes that kind of donation possible.  You can say you want your money used on, but the way they are organized every donation is used, at least in part, on abortion.

This is the very fact why Title X was such a big deal.  If Planned Parenthood would have reorganized their structure, as they were urged by government officials long before Title X was a thing,  to where donated funds could be earmarked for only one thing and then never be used for another then they wouldn’t have lost any funding for health services when Title X went through.  But, as former Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen found out, the organization is more interested in being radical about abortion and less concerned with providing actual health services to women.

Now for those of you still listening and/or reading after I just put two dying nonprofits on blast for their fruit, remember, we’re still talking about judging fruit.  In Matthew 11 and Luke 7 we find recorded that news has reached John the Baptist in prison that Jesus is performing miracles and has a reputation of being a drunkard and a friend of tax collectors and sinners.  So, John sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the Messiah they have been waiting for or should they be looking for someone else.

You see, Jesus didn’t look or act like the Messiah that John the Baptist or the religious leaders of the day were expecting.  John is, I’m sure, struggling with the fact that he’s in prison while his cousin is out there on His tour of the countryside.  None of that helped by the rumors that John is getting wind of that while John has been a super pious guy never even touching a drop of alcohol, Jesus is living it up at parties with sinners.

I love Jesus’ response when Johns’ disciples reach Him with the question of whether or not He is the Messiah, or should they be looking for another.  Basically, John wants to know if his endorsement of Jesus at the river Jordan was misplaced and is this going to come back and bite him in the butt.  Let’s look at Jesus' response.  Luke 7:18-23 CSB, “[18] Then John's disciples told him about all these things. So John summoned two of his disciples [19] and sent them to the Lord, asking, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?" [20] When the men reached him, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to ask you, 'Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?'" [21] At that time Jesus healed many people of diseases, afflictions, and evil spirits, and he granted sight to many blind people. [22] He replied to them, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, [23] and blessed is the one who isn't offended by me."

Instead of putting John on blast in front of his disciples for publicly questioning His ministry, Jesus instead takes the route of listing his fruit and letting it stand on its own.  Now once John's people are gone though, Jesus turns to the crowd and still instead of talking bad about John or even trying to defend Himself Jesus takes the opportunity to hype John up.  He says, Luke 7:24-29 CSB, “[24b] What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? [25] What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? See, those who are splendidly dressed and live in luxury are in royal palaces. [26] What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. [27] This is the one about whom it is written: See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you. [28] I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John, but the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." [29] (And when all the people, including the tax collectors, heard this, they acknowledged God's way of righteousness, because they had been baptized with John's baptism. [30] But since the Pharisees and experts in the law had not been baptized by him, they rejected the plan of God for themselves.)”

You see Jesus had no problem openly criticizing those with rotten fruit.  However, John, even though he was questioning Jesus' ministry, was producing good fruit.  Jesus had no reason to cast doubt in others minds over whether or not John and his ministry could be trusted.  I’ve seen a fair amount of judging of ministers of the Gospel on social media lately.  I’m sure people think they’re just warning others about wolves in sheep’s clothing.  However, some of these I have first-hand knowledge of good fruit coming out of their ministries.  Some of it you can easily research online, some of it isn’t public knowledge.  I guess the point here is that unless God Himself tells you to warn people about a minister of the Gospel then you should probably keep your mouth shut.  You might just be warning people away from the very help that they need.

This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”

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