Judging Versus Judging Fruit (part 2)

Good trees don't bear bad fruit.

Judging (continued)

When Jesus tells us that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit, what does that mean for me?  How do I live that out?

As I pointed out in the last devotion, it takes a lot of discernment.  It also requires us to be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)  I want to share some examples that would easily fit our society today, in hopes of helping you to understand what it means to judge fruit.

Suppose you see a man who faithfully attends church, often gives testimonies, and prays out loud at prayer meetings.  He seems like a very spiritual man, yet when you observe him around the women, you notice that he touches them in ways that do not seem to be appropriate.  As you watch his eyes when a lady walks passed him, you see that he is looking at certain places on her anatomy that a truly godly man should refrain from viewing.  Are you judging him by thinking that he is after more than just hearing the Pastor’s sermon?  No.  You are judging the fruit of his life, and it tells you to avoid him at all costs.

Suppose a lady starts coming to the women’s Bible study and she is very vibrant and expressive in her worship.  She appears to really be in love with Jesus.  After several weeks of attending Bible study, it becomes apparent that she has a serious problem with respecting her husband and submitting to him.  She can never talk about him in a good light. Many of the stories she shares show that she is very manipulative in her relationships.  If you choose not to befriend her, are you judging her?  No, you are simply being cautious in friendship. (Proverbs 12:26)  You want to choose a friend who is like iron sharpening iron. (Proverbs 27:17)

Perhaps there is a woman who attends your church who seems to thrive on attention.  During worship, you cannot help but see her because she is making such an expressive display of emotion.  In fact, she almost seems out of control.  This lady is involved in so many activities in the church that she appears to be quite disorganized.  Yet she continues to faithfully attend every activity at church, spending more time at church than she does home.  You decide to stop by her house one day, only to find that her house is so filled with clutter that you would not be able to safely maneuver through the living room.  Piles upon piles of disarray, and they are everywhere!  Are you judging her if you decide that you do not want to spend much time with her?  No, you have judged her fruit against Proverbs 31:12, which says that she brings her husband good and not harm.  You see that she is not the faithful manager of the home that a virtuous woman should be. (Proverbs 31:27)

I firmly believe that we are living in the latter days.  Because of that, Jesus told us that the love of many will wax cold. (Matthew 24:12)  People will want to hear only preaching that will tickle their itching ears. (Second Timothy 4:3)  While it may be easier to just keep our mouth shut and refuse to speak the truth of God’s Word, I want to encourage you to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.  Keep running the race He has marked out for you.  Even in the midst of persecution, know that your Father is closely watching you, and He is pleased when you stand up for righteousness. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller


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