“A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” Matthew 7:18
Of all the places I have been, the Amazon jungle is definitely the most interesting and exotic destination. There is a tremendous variety of animals and plants, many of which I had never even known existed. As we were walking by a small tree with some beautiful fruit that looked like apples, I asked the tour guide if I could pluck one and eat it. To which he replied, “Don’t be fooled by the beauty of that fruit, because it disguises death. One bite of that fruit could kill you.”
In a similar way, Jesus warns us to beware of false teachers who are nothing more than death in disguise. In a sense, the appeal of these false teachers seems good and beautiful. But just like a poisonous fruit that looks inviting on a tree, their ideas may appear good but are actually toxic. We need to surround ourselves with people like the tour guide in the jungle, who can tell the difference between what is good and what can harm us. The way to do this, according to the Bible, is to measure people by their fruit, or their actions. We must choose to follow leaders who have godly character and a track record of walking faithfully with the Lord. As we feed off of their good fruit, we will also produce good fruit.
Who are the people influencing your life the most? Are they serious about living a life that pleases God? Do they have a track record of solid blessings from God or do they bear fruit with a pleasant appearance but a poisonous substance? Beware of those who only talk the talk, but never walk the walk that leads to Jesus.
Heavenly Father, I pray for discernment to know the difference between good fruit and bad. Show me the people who can be a godly influence in my life. Give me boldness to break away from false teachers who deceive me and lead to death. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Joe Souza serves as the pastoral leadership development coordinator at the Baptist Convention of New England.