Judging Versus Judging Fruit


We live in a society where people push so hard to get us to be tolerant of their sin.  Because of this, the scripture that tells us not to judge often gets taken out of context.

Matthew 7:1-5 warns us not to judge others.  Yet, when you read it in context, it is referring to people who judge others for every little thing they do wrong, yet they refuse to see the planks in their own eye.  Some examples of this would be if I judge you because you smoke, yet I overeat frequently.  Another instance would be if I judge you for having books with occultic themes in them, yet I have a whole bookcase of steamy, romance novels in my own home.  Another case in point would be if I judge someone for committing adultery, yet I daily struggle with lust and fantasizing.  Jesus points out that when we even look upon another person with lust, we have already committed adultery in our heart. (Matthew 5:28)

Going back to the scripture in Matthew 7, it seems as if Jesus is negating what He said earlier in the chapter.  In verses 15-23, He gives a clear warning to watch out for false prophets.  In order to help us understand how to watch out for them, He tells us to look at the fruit in their lives.  He points out that a bad tree cannot bear good fruit and vice versa.  He even cautions us that not all who prophecy, cast out demons, and perform miracles will enter the kingdom of heaven.  Wouldn’t this be considered judging?  No – it is judging fruit, and that is entirely different.

Obviously, it takes a discerning heart to tell if someone’s fruit is good.  As a new Christian, I was naïve enough to believe that if someone could ‘talk the talk’ then they were a good, strong Christian.  After walking with the Lord for over twenty years now, I know that is not always true.

For instance, the Pharisees and teachers of the law knew the Word very well.  They followed it as closely as they possibly could.  Yet Jesus said they were full of dead men’s bones. (Matthew 23:27)  Was Jesus judging them?  No, He was judging their fruit, or the lack thereof.

In Acts 16:16-18, Paul and Silas were being followed by a slave girl who predicted the future.  When Paul turned and commanded an evil spirit to come out of her, was he judging her?  No, he was judging the fruit in her life.  He was able to discern that while she did speak the truth about them, saying that they were servants of the Most High God, it was actually the spirit in her that was speaking, seeking attention for itself.

We find another example in Matthew 14:3-12 when John the Baptist spoke out and told Herod that it was wrong for him to have his brother’s wife.  Was John judging Herod when he spoke this?  No, he was preaching the uncompromised truth of God’s Word.  Obviously, it infuriated Herod because he had John arrested, and later consented to have him beheaded.

It is the same with us when we dare to stand firm on the Word.  We may also infuriate people.  Besides facing persecution from my unsaved family members, I have received some of the most hateful, derogatory emails when I have dared to speak God’s truth.  Unfortunately, there are many carnal Christians who want to be holy enough to make it to heaven, but they do not want to be holy enough where it causes a major disruption to their lifestyle.  Speaking the uncompromised truth of God’s Word can bring conviction to those who do not want to be convicted.  Their response is to lash out at us – the messenger.  Second Timothy 3:12 tells us that if we live godly lives, we will face persecution.  Just as Jesus was persecuted and even called a lunatic from his own family members, it is no different with us.  We will also be persecuted.

It is understandable when the unsaved persecute us, but it can really hurt when we are persecuted by those who claim to be our brothers and sisters in Christ.  The one thing that has helped me in those times is to remember that when I face persecution, God’s spirit and His glory rest on me.  (First Peter 4:14)

Next time I will give some more examples of what it means to judge fruit.
© 2006, Stacy R. Miller


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