March Like Jesus

Your intentions can be so strong that you start to believe you did what you intended to do even when you didn’t

March Like Jesus
… Being Discerning

Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:15-20

Key Verse: Matthew 7:20
“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions”.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could talk to each other honestly, pointing out characteristics that are not Christ-like?

Unfortunately, in over 45 years of dealing with people, I have found that it is very rare to find a person who is open to constructive criticism.

One of the reasons for this is that we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions. That tendency can be so strong that we start to believe that we did what we intended to do. A person can believe they are kind because they intend to be kind. We can have great intentions to be helpful and generous with people to the point that we believe it of ourselves even though there are no actions to back it up.

Jesus is speaking to this issue in our Key Verse for today. He uses a tree to illustrate this point… we can know a tree by its fruit:

“A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:17)

If a tree could talk, and it talked like so many of us, it would deny that it is a bad tree, even with bad fruit hanging from it.

This reminds me of a recent news report of a man who got drunk and in an angry fit shot another man to death. The family of the man who did the shooting kept saying what a good and kind man he is. I am sure this man and his family believes this, but the problem is that his fruit does not back that up. This incident may be out of character for this man, but the law will judge his act.

I heard a person characterize herself as a Christian person, yet the way she was talking and acting didn’t seem to be consistent with the Bible’s concept of a Christian.

Jesus was warning His followers to be discerning and recognize “false prophets” by the way that prophets behave.

As we try to apply this idea of being discerning, we must be careful not to become a judgmental person. Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t judge, I just inspect fruit”? I have a feeling those who say that do too much judging.

Being discerning is about being careful to whom we listen to and with whom we associate with. It is not about judging them; leave the judgment to God. We can be discerning without talking bad about the person! When we talk bad about others, we place ourselves in danger of God’s judgement.

Father, remind me to inspect my own fruit and not be judgmental of others. Grant me wisdom to use spiritual discernment in my dealings with others. In Jesus’s Name I pray, amen.

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