Good and Bad Fruit…not so clear

Matthew 7 is a series of sayings and parables which, at first glance, seem to contradict one another. First, Jesus says: by their fruits you will know them. [Mt 7:20] [1]

However, He almost immediately follow with a parable that warns about external manifestations of power may not indicate a pure heart, a loving heart. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ [Mt 7:21-23] It is love in which we must be grounded, not external prophecy, exorcisms or mighty deeds which may indicate pride, not true discipleship.

Following this, he tells a parable about building one’s foundation in Him: Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined. [Mt 7: 24-27] If we have a true love of Jesus and have experienced His unconditional love of us, we, indeed, have a firm foundation upon which to build our lives.

Perhaps the difference between good fruit and bad fruit has more to do with one’s attitude than action: deeds done humbly, acknowledging Jesus and God as the source and power and referring the glory and praise to them, are good fruit. When Peter cured the man crippled from birth at the “Beautiful Gate” of the temple, he did so in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean [Acts 3:2-7] and the cured beggar leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God, [Acts 3:8] not Peter and John.

On the other hand, when one wants the glory and praise for himself, even though he is using God as the source of his power, it is bad fruit. When Simon the Sorcerer tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from Peter, Peter said to him, “May your money perish with you, because you thought that you could buy the gift of God with money. You have no share or lot in this matter, for your heart is not upright before God. Repent of this wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord that, if possible, your intention may be forgiven. For I see that you are filled with bitter gall and are in the bonds of iniquity.” [Acts 8:20-23] Simon wanted to buy God’s power for his own use and the fruit that would have been produced, would have been evil. Fortunately, God’s grace was at work and Simon repented, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”[Acts 8:24]

May I  build my house on the foundation of Your words and works, Jesus. May I use the gifts You have given me, Holy Spirit, with Your graces of wisdom and love. May the fruits I produce be good and offered through Your Son for Your greater honor and glory, Father. Amen.

1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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