Jesus said, 'Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.'
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
The seventh chapter of St Matthew's Gospel is a mine of information about how to live this life as a Christian, and comes at the end of three chapters which we know as 'The Sermon on the Mount'. In the passage above Jesus says we shall know people by their fruit, and he speaks of false prophets. We might think of this as false leaders perhaps, but we can also apply this in other ways. A person may speak kind words, but do their actions show that they love other people?
Bunyan in his work 'Pilgrim's Progress' has a character that is not quite what he seems. Christian who is travelling to the Celestial City meets Talkative and thinks he will be a great companion. Everything the man says seems to indicate this. But his friend Faithful, disagrees. He tells Christian, "The man talks of prayer, of repentance, of faith of new birth, but he knows only to talk of them. I have been in his family and have observed him both at home and abroad. His house is as empty of religion as the white of an egg is of flavour. He thinks that hearing and saying will make a good Christian, and he deceives himself."
Every word we speak and every action we take is evidence of what we are like inside. We may pretend to believe in God, and to follow Jesus Christ, but do our lives say something else? We need to be critical of ourselves and ask what do our actions say about us?
You taught us that we should know others
by their fruit;
and that their words should show
evidence in their life.
Help us to be honest with ourselves
and to see that our actions
reflect our thoughts and beliefs.