In these days of rampant deception and charlatan leaders, more than ever, we must be wise fruit inspectors. I’ve been in full time ministry for over thirty-five years and I’m still mystified by how naive and simplistic I can be and many believers are. Maybe it’s in the name of being “loving” and “nice” that we have trouble calling a spade a spade. Jesus, who had no problem sizing up people through fruit inspection, called the Jewish tetrarch Herod, “that fox” (Luke 13:32). The insulting term wasn’t very kind but it was accurate to the character of the man. As much as we might want to think otherwise, Jesus never endeared himself to other leaders with being overly nice. In another place Jesus called such leaders “ravenous wolves [that could be identified] by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20). He was a fruit inspector and truth seeker.
Jesus and His Father are the original fruit inspectors. In one of his final sermons, Jesus explains that God is always examining people according to their fruit: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2) If examining fruit is important to God, how much more should it be important to us.
Jesus was never enamored with words, but was constantly focused in on deeds—fruit. In his discussion with the Rich Young Ruler, Jesus was not impressed with the piety of the young man’s words of devotion but rather challenged him to sell all he had and follow Him (Matthew 19:16-22). Jesus wanted action not intentions. Fruit inspection.
It takes time to bear fruit—good or bad. No one knows the type of seed planted until the harvest comes. Patience is important in agriculture and spiritual matters, and we are always hopeful of repentance. But, with sound discernment, all of us need to observe and inspect fruit, especially within the church. We should not be swayed or moved by polished words. Just as there have been coaches I would not put my son’s athletic career under, there are political and spiritual leaders that I would not trust because of their actions. Their pious words in the light camouflage their real intentions in the dark. Time will tell. The harvest will eventually reveal their true deeds. Be careful and be a fruit inspector. Your life might depend on it.