'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, from the New Revised Standard Version)
During the past year we have been inundated with media stories from social media and from tv news channels. Many are put out with good intent, but others are deliberate misinformation. It is often very difficult to know what to believe. But Jesus had some really good advice - we should know people, or stories, by their 'fruit'.
Does the latest scare story lead to good outcomes, or does it lead to massed demonstrations and violence? Does someone's forceful suggestion in a meeting lead to something positive and fruitful, or does it create continuing negative responses.
We do need to be careful that we don't close down opposition, for those who agree with everyone simply cause opposition from everyone. After all we need to see the final fruit to know if it is any good, not the buds but the ripe apple!
help us to be discerning
about what we see and hear
in our world;
to decide for ourselves
what is producing good fruit,
and what is leading to unhealthy outcomes.