Some people just have a way with words, and the knack of getting to the heart of a matter. Proverbs, the Book of Wisdom, expresses it this way, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).
An illustration of this characteristic is a man who became a friend of mine. When he first attended a church service with The Living Church of God, he walked up to the minister with a smile and said, “I am here as a fruit inspector… to inspect your fruits.” His remark brought a smile and a quizzical look.
What he referred to quickly became apparent. Having studied his Bible for many years, the man knew that not everyone who professed to be a minister of Jesus Christ would actually be speaking the Truth. Jesus said that “many” would come in His name calling Him “Lord, Lord” and yet would not actually do the things that He commanded. (Matthew 7:21–23). How can one tell who is the genuine article? As is often the case, the answer to that question is made very plain in Scripture. Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a 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. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:15–20).
Fruits? Why, what could that mean? The Apostle Paul wrote very plainly about the “fruits” of human behavior in Galatians 5. In verses 19–21 he lists the “works of the flesh” which are not good. Then in verses 22–23 he wrote, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control….” My friend, understanding this important principle, simply announced his purpose. Happily, he found what he was seeking and remains active in fellowship and serving one of our local congregations.
Each of us has the ability and responsibility to think for ourselves and to make decisions about how we conduct our lives and our relationships with others. In an age that exalts a spirit of relativism, that is, the mistaken idea that there are no absolutes, we see many people adrift, morally and ethically. The tragic results are all about us. Unhappiness, poverty, ignorance, crime, heart ache and pain seem to be the norm. The “fruit” of this way of life is a bumper crop of misery.
The Bible makes it plain that God intends for mankind to “seek” Him and His ways. “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Again, the book of Proverbs puts it clearly into perspective, “The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps. A wise man fears and departs from evil…” (Proverbs 14:15–16).
As you pursue your goals, physically and spiritually, consider the words of my friend and the instruction found in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The nations and places written about back then are in your news headlines today. The source of the problems we see all about us were also recorded anciently. Do you have the eyes to see and the ears to hear?
If you, too, want to be a “fruit inspector,” our booklets The Bible: Fact or Fiction? and The Ten Commandments will be a great help in guiding you in your study of the Bible. The information is priceless, but the booklets are free of any charge.