Jesus said: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
A prophet, in the most general sense of the word is a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God. In these days that would be the preacher who breaks the word of God for you either from the pulpit or your television screens.
There were false prophets in Jesus’ time, and there are false prophets today. How does one recognize them? Not through signs and wonders, which even the devil can perform - there is a good example in Acts 16 where a slave girl had the gift of divination - but through the fruit, which the enemy cannot duplicate.
What fruit are these? Described in Galatians 5:22-23 by Paul, these are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. The only way we can bear these fruit are if we are one with Jesus, much like a branch is entwined to the vine. Therefore, we can be pretty sure that a prophet who consistently exhibits these qualities is fairly entwined with Christ.
But even as we look at our resident “prophets”, we might want to look at ourselves too, because it isn’t only the prophet we can recognize by their fruit; it’s the Christian too. How much fruit are *we* bearing? If we aren’t bearing fruit in abundance, it is because we aren’t connected to Christ who said: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
Then, in words that should encourage all of us, he continues: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:7-8).
So, dear friend. Let us remain in the vine and be recognized as true followers of Christ.
May the Spirit be with you.