HOW TO TELL THE REAL FROM THE FAKE
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:13-16a
Jesus mixes his metaphors sometimes. Here he warns against three things that look good but are not: a wide road, a sheep with fangs and a tree with bad fruit. He is giving us advice on how to choose. Sometimes what looks good at first is a disaster waiting to happen. If we are not supposed to judge, how can we decide which path is best or who to trust?
Just as there are two roads, there are two types of people that will try to lead you. Though he just told us to to give up judging and condemning people, we do have to be discerning about whom we follow. Some people look safe but they are just out to get something. They love you like a wolf loves a lamb. That isn’t as fun for the lamb.
Look at the fruit
So how do you know who to listen to? Look at the fruit. What is their life producing in the lives of people around them? A good tree produces good fruit. A bad tree doesn’t. It’s that simple. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. Do you see those things in the life of someone? Does their teaching produce that in their followers? Then good. If not, run.
This is not to say that leaders must be perfect. I am a leader who is far from perfect. Fruit is the standard. Not perfection, success, fame, style, persuasiveness or degrees and endorsements. Does this person practice what they preach? How is it working out for them? What are the people around them like? You can’t fake fruit. At least not for long.