Jesus Christ famously said, “Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). Their fruits? What fruits? What did Jesus mean?
Your fruits are your actions—what you do and the results of your choices. Wise King Solomon wrote long ago, “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right” (Proverbs 20:11).
So what about you? If you are known by your deeds, how would you be known? What are the fruits of your life so far?
It really does boil down to action. You may have good intentions about doing better in life—perhaps beginning to pray regularly, studying the Bible, practicing more kindness toward others, or striving to be more encouraging. But if it never moves past mere intentions, we’ve got trouble. It’s like the diet or exercise program that someone is always going to start… tomorrow. Except tomorrow never comes. And, as a result, no fruit is ever produced. No character is ever developed.
On the other hand, if you have begun to implement some of these good intentions—and if those intentions line up with the Bible—you will begin to develop good fruit. And if you’ve been diligent about making positive changes in your life, then you will probably keep producing good fruit tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. And the longer you do the right thing, the more predictable you will become and the more good fruit you will produce. You are developing good habits. If this is the case in your life, God knows that most likely tomorrow will find you obeying Him once again. You are bearing good fruit and building godly character—not only good for you, but also pleasing to your Creator.
Of course you are a free moral agent, with the power of choice. Everyone has the ability to jump off the right track and back onto the wrong one. Some have given up after years of living a Christian life. The Apostle Paul was very aware of this possibility when he was inspired to write, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Abraham was a good example of a true servant who became predictable in his willingness to obey God, no matter what was asked of him. Even when God tested him by commanding him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, Abraham obeyed! As he stretched out his hand to slay his son God intervened, telling him. “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:12). Though he had failed at some moments earlier in his life, Abraham had overcome and grown and now he was known by his deeds—by his fruits. God says in the Bible that He blessed Abraham and his descendants “because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Genesis 26:5).
Just as all of us need to get to know God, it’s also true that He must get to know you. God is looking for individuals who won’t cave to negative peer pressure. He is searching for those who live by His laws and who are willing to swim against the current when necessary. And let’s face it—in the world today, young people who try to live God’s way face many tests. Peer pressure to conform to the world’s standards may be immense at times, especially with regard to personal appearance, dress, drugs and sex. Do you compromise in these areas? Or do you uphold high standards of conduct? You may be ostracized or rejected by your peers. But how you handle these situations is important to God.
When the young Jewish boy named Daniel was carried away as a captive to Babylon, he was only a teenager. When pressured to compromise in his observance of God’s laws, he and three other young men (Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah) resisted. They would not “defile [themselves] with the portion of the king’s delicacies” (Daniel 1:8–20). Similarly, when his three friends were commanded to bow down before an idol or else face execution, they refused to turn their backs on God’s command (Exodus 20:4–6) even though they knew it might mean their deaths (Daniel 3:16–18). They put their lives on the line. They refused to compromise with their beliefs. As a result of these deeds, and others, they increased in favor with God and with men, and they were promoted to positions of leadership in the empire of Babylon!
If you’re reading this magazine and seeking to understand what God has for you in the Bible, you are probably beginning to learn a lot! However, along with this knowledge comes responsibility. You are accountable for what you know. For example, the book of James tells us that “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). You must choose a path—right or wrong—and then decide to act, or not to act, accordingly. And as you do, keep in mind the Proverb mentioned earlier: “Even a child is known by his deeds…”
You are not going to have opportunities in tomorrow’s world simply because of how your parents lived or the quality of your friends’ character. You, yourself, must learn to make right decisions all on your own. You must “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). It is up to you, not anyone else, to work with Jesus Christ in that salvation. No one can do that for you.
Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, is quoted as saying: “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” This is a fact. If you are to have success in any area of life, you must act appropriately upon the knowledge you have. And the same is true spiritually speaking: spiritual fruit in your life will require real action on your part. Jesus warned those who wanted to be a part of His future eternal Kingdom, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Did you notice what this verse says? It says action is required. There is something you must do.
Now is the time to begin building good habits and living by the laws of God. Today is the time to begin making positive changes in your life where they are needed. Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Seek to pass each test that comes along when it comes along and not put off the hard things to a later time. Become a predictable human being that God can count on to do the right thing. “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit” (Luke 6:43–44).