Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Tuesday April 15, 2014 Matthew 7:15-20
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-20
This has always been a difficult passage for me. The story is pretty straightforward, but my experiences get in the way. I grew up on a farm. My undergraduate degree is in horticulture: growing plants for food and beauty, as well as many other uses. My major professor in graduate school was an internationally acclaimed plant breeder. For thousands of years, people have been intentionally developing new varieties of plants through rather simple plant breeding methods, well before the last few decades of genetic engineering.
Truth be known, most of the products of plant breeding that come out of the initial cross breeding methods will produce many fold more unimproved or even inferior fruits. Plant breeders employ many hours of selection at each generation, until they are satisfied with the variety.
Looking at a fruit, it is not always evident whether it is going to be good or not for a particular usage. It is hard to recognize a True improvement in a plant.
False prophets can be just as difficult to recognize. People can be tricky!
During the Great Depression, a man named Al ran a soup kitchen in Chicago. Many people were without jobs, and his soup kitchen provided a lot of meals. Al did not even take any donations or money from the government. That was really a great thing to do, right? Literally, a point of light in the darkness.
You may not know about Al. Al made a lot of money during the depression. He worked hard to become one of the most violent mob bosses in the country, responsible for ordering scores of his perceived enemies killed. Al Capone really bore bad fruit.
In the case of human prophets, you need to be sure to get a full assessment of what they are telling you. If they quote Scripture, you need to investigate. You need the council of others.
Work with a friend to evaluate your findings using the Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. Use all of these tools to be better able to live a holy life.
Lord, keep me open to your love. Keep me open to opportunities to follow you. Lord, keep me open to question what I am told, so that I may walk closer to your steps. Lord, keep me humble, keep me always learning, keep me always praying, until we are together in heaven.