“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew 8:15 (NLT)
The Tree and its Fruit, is a great parable for us all who continue to seek guidance against the temptation of judging others. As it is wrong for us to judge others based on physical appearances, it is also wrong for others to deceive us through appearances. Knowing this, Jesus provides us, through words of wisdom, of a technique that we can use to identify false people without judging them: inspecting their production of labor or actions.
All trees, if not most, produce fruit from labor. And since you can never tell which tree is a bad tree, based on physical appearance, you must pluck the fruit from whence it came to inspect if its labor of fruit is good or bad. Although trees and people do not share the same characteristics, they do share a common goal of good quality labor.
Since it is already known that trees can never produce bad fruit, this parable still reminds us that people should be judged or inspected by the quality of their work or actions–and not by their physical appearances or words.
Actions speak louder than words; so don’t be fooled if their words do not speak for their actions.
This week’s spiritual lesson: Inspect a person’s fruit or labor. If they produce good fruit then reap that person’s company. And if that person does produce bad fruit, then identify them as a false person—but do not judge them for it is God’s responsibility to do so.