“Thus you will recognise them by their fruits” Matthew 7:20
Jesus is drawing to a close in the Sermon on the Mount. But before He wraps up He has several more truths to deliver about the Kingdom life. And the first of His closing thoughts focuses on who qualifies as Kingdom people.
Because there are many who think they are Kingdom people but actually aren’t. As Jesus says in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” What Jesus is saying here has huge consequences – He is saying that Kingdom people are marked by being a people who don’t just talk the talk. What we profess must be backed up by how we live. We will be judged ultimately not on the words we say but by the lives we live. Jesus says “You will recognise them [Kingdom people] by their fruits…every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” Matthew 7:16,19.
This is a tough passage. Because the application is if you don’t have good fruit in your life then no matter how many of the right words you said, no matter how many worship songs or hymns you sang along to, no matter how many ‘inspiration Christian’ facebook statuses you liked it doesn’t matter. If there is no Kingdom fruit in your life the words you will hear from Jesus are “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” Matthew 7:23. Those words should scare you. That people can make it through life going to all the right services, hearing the sermons, studying the Word, talking about faith, preaching, , telling others they are sinners, pointing out the speck in their neighbour’s eye and in the end miss out on Kingdom life is scary. For I am sure each us of can think of many who would call themselves Christians whose lives are totally devoid of fruit. People who think they are righteous because they look holy at church and don’t do the things sinners do. Yet their lives are not marked by love. They are not full of joy. They have no peace. There is no patience with them. They do not display kindness. Their lives, though they say the right things about God’s judgement and the wages of sin, are not filled with goodness. They have no self-control. They are not known for their gentleness. And as Jesus says “you will recognise them by their fruits” Matthew 7:20
Kingdom people realise that the Kingdom life isn’t about just saying the right things or believing the right things. These are important. But the Kingdom life is about having a personal encounter with the grace of God, which changes us from the inside out, makes us Kingdom citizens and inevitably leads to fruit in our lives. Anyone who professes to be a believer who is not doing the will of the Father, who is not living out a life full of Kingdom fruit has not had a true saving encounter with Jesus.
It is a challenge for us – is there definitely fruit in our lives? Are we living out our faith or just reciting words we hope will save us? And who around us do we need to make aware that God judges us not on the words we say but on the fruit in our lives?
Focus verse: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” Galatians 5:22-23
- Which of these fruits are most evident in your life? Which are least?
- Which believers do you know whose faith is really evident by their fruit?
- Who do you need to share these words of Jesus with?