Are our lives sending the right message? Do our lives lift high the name of Jesus? Know Him; serve Him; show Him.
5 The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.
17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.
As we continue on our study on the Jewishness of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus warns His listeners to be careful to whom they listen. The religious leaders would have them follow the Law of Moses, particularly the way that they spin it. Jesus came to fulfill the Law and to usher in a New Covenant.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:15-20
The real question is, “Is a person’s life growing in godliness and righteousness?” Another way to say it is, “Am I becoming more like Jesus and expressing His values, His love, and His grace?” It’s a good question to ask ourselves every morning!
Jesus then hit the teachers of the Law between the eyes:
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. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23
Jesus linked the Law back to a relationship with the Father through Him. See it? “I never knew you.” At another time, Jesus tells them what the Father’s will is for mankind, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent” John 6:29. If the religious leaders didn’t follow Jesus, then they were wolves in sheep’s clothing, bad fruit, and a bad tree (we’ll discuss the bad tree later this month). Jesus Himself linked loving Him with obedience, “If you love Me, keep my commands” John 14:15. He was about to give them explicit commands to follow that changed them and changed the world:
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides [lives, camps out] in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:9-11
I included verse 11 because I want us to be reminded of the telltale sign of a growing Christian: Joy. When we abide in Christ daily, His joy washes over us. Even in difficult circumstances, we can rest in His love and feel His joy. His peace reigns in our hearts because of the promise of eternal connection with Him and eternal life in Him.
Let’s not be like the religious leaders who decided for themselves how they would serve, but ask Christ how we may best serve Him.
Christianity is interactive;
we were never designed to do things FOR Him, but WITH Him.
Abba, may we “get it” today. Serving You is not doing things for you, but with You. It’s always been about the relationship. May we not grieve You today by ignoring Your Spirit within us. Teach us to listen closely; You are forever speaking to us. Unplug our ears, LORD. We want to hear Your sweet voice! Amen.