This morning we wrap up our week-long focus on how the Holy Spirit empowers us with a new identity. This verse came to mind as I considered how to encourage you all (and myself) this morning:
“…Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:20 (ESV) Jesus’ words.
Matthew 7 is one of those passages that makes my head spin. It begins with Jesus telling us not to judge others in the first verse but by verse 6 He is warning us not to “give dogs what is holy” or “throw your pearls to pigs” which infers that we will have to make judgement calls – we will encounter dogs and pigs in life and we are not to give them anything…. But He goes on to call us to love people. Do unto others…. So I wonder if maybe the dogs and pigs Jesus referred to in Matthew 7 might sometimes be our old sinful self?
Have you ever had a moment that you were not YOU? Or a moment when your heart sort of pulled your mind to the side and said, “Hey, that was not you. Let’s refocus…” We will dig deeper into this relationship our heart has with our soul, mind, and strength, but for now consider this: Jesus wants your heart first – your soul, mind, and strength follow the direction your heart sets. Your heart has the most authority over your emotions, decisions, and actions so Jesus must sit on the throne of your heart – when He does, the Holy Spirit guides and directs your day and produces good fruit.
When I was a kid I heard a pastor use Matthew 7:6 as a warning to dismiss people in the church who reference Scripture to question the ideas and decisions of church leadership. As a kid with a healthy respect for pastors and preachers this settled deep into my heart and troubled my spirit. Parents, pay close attention to what your kids are hearing from their teachers both at school AND at church. While my parents never addressed this false teaching to me directly they discussed it in my hearing. And so I came to understand two very unnerving truths as a kid:
- Sometimes people who preach the love of Jesus, don’t love His bride.
- We must not depend completely on pastors, teachers, preachers, counselors, parents… really anyone else to help us understand God’s word. We must each have our own relationship with Jesus so the Holy Spirit has access to a soft, teachable heart in which He can cultivate good fruit.
While we absolutely will encounter dogs and pigs in life, let us consider who and what those dogs and pigs actually are. Right before the mention of these repulsive characters Jesus asked questions: “WHY do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but cannot see the beam in your own eye? HOW can you say, ‘let me take the speck out of your eye’ when there is a beam in your own eye?”
Why? and How?…. Perhaps the beam holding up your worldview is the product of a bad tree? How will you know if it’s bad? By it’s fruit… but even if it is a good tree producing good fruit…. We must guard against the dogs and pigs – the scavengers. Don’t give your joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…. your love to lost causes. Don’t throw good fruit to causes without eternal value, or you will constantly be under attack. This is not about the people you surround yourself with as much as it is about the causes you are fighting for in their lives.
Let’s turn our judging eyes inward today Dear Bride. It’s safe to look at your heart when Jesus is Lord of it. May you see His covering over you and allow Him to remove every rotten, vicious, repulsive thing you are fixated on. Keep your eyes on The Groom!