Jesus is beginning to wrap up His manifesto. Jesus changed his brief metaphor from sheep and wolves to trees and their fruit, from the sheep’s clothing which a wolf may wear to the fruit which a tree must bear. In so doing he moved from the risk of non-recognition to the means of recognition.
Although I may indeed sometimes mistake a wolf for a sheep, he seems to say, I cannot make the same mistake with a tree. No tree can hide its identity for long. Sooner or later it betrays itself—by its fruit. A wolf may disguise itself; a tree cannot. Noxious weeds like thorns and thistles simply cannot produce edible fruit like grapes and figs.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” | Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV)
So what is the “fruit of the Spirit”?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. | Galatians 5:22-23
I need to focus on growing fruit. Is my tree healthy? Do I have thistles and thorns surrounding me?
Jesus is challenging me.