Jesus said, “You will recognize [false prophets] by the fruit they bear. Surely people don’t pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles, do they?”
— Matthew 7:16 (USC)
Previously we have covered the idea that any of us can become one given to propagating Satan’s work — most often vicariously! This is the reason we have to remain vigilant and accountable to wise advisors who have such an accountable reasonableness about them. Heaven help us!
This verse carries on the theme: there are those bad shepherds about who have no concern at all for the sheep of God’s pasture.
The sheep (the Body of Christ — his magnificent Church) are his. They are the Pastor’s sheep — not the pastor’s. This is no subtle difference. There are those who would wantonly carry unknown persons or an entire congregation over the precipice into an idolatrous abyss. And this is how we shall know them...
We will know them by their fruit.
What they bear as their vintage will be the knowing of them. No good shepherd tends their flock for many years, caring for all his or her relations with them, and is not known for his or her care. Their care is their fruit. No good shepherd is unknown. They are being made known by the Lord, and, one day, he will say to them, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” This is a good shepherd’s only delight.
Likewise, no bad shepherd is unknown, either. He or she are well known — to those they hurt. And they are being made known by the Lord. God will make them known by the odious fruit they produce — works of disguise, deceit, and delinquency. They only get away with their wrongdoing for so long. God is soon bringing their case before the court of human judgment. Their demise is a fait accompli.
What about us? Where do we stand? Again, heaven help us if we are one their number; a bad shepherd. Our goal is to be an eternal enquirer of ourselves — to have God search us to know our innermost persuasions to temptation and wrongdoing (Psalm 139:23-24).
The tasting of the vintage is coming soon everywhere,
The ripening of the fruit — the works of all laid bare,
Good shepherd or bad — time’s coming when all will see,
The good test of time is the only test there’ll be.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. Many of us have experienced both good shepherds and bad. What is it about both, for you, that sets them apart so far as their fruit is concerned?
2. Do you have an issue with a bad shepherd of your past — a ‘false prophet’? How successfully have you been able to lay that at your Saviour’s feet?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.