Scripture Reading | Matthew 7:15-20
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you dressed like sheep, but inside they are vicious wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruit. Do people get bunches of grapes from thorny weeds, or do they get figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, and every rotten tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit. And a rotten tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore, you will know them by their fruit. 
Jesus is warning his listeners that there are people who would lead them astray. “In ancient Israel, ‘false prophets’ were people who claimed to be speaking the word of yhwh but actually weren’t.”  I don’t think Jesus is specifically talking about prophets in the sense of people telling the future but rather more broadly people proclaiming to speak on behalf of God in their teaching.
The problem is that it’s not easy to know the real from the false. They look like sheep. They seem like good people. But, nevertheless, Jesus warns, “watch out!” What are we to watch for?
Don’t follow people who don’t produce good fruit. “The ‘fruit’ cannot simply be showy displays of apparent spiritual power. False prophets can often produce that sort of thing. What counts is something deeper, something more personal.”  Jesus would later warn about Pharisees: ““How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside they are full of violence and pleasure seeking.”
All around us are people vying for our attention, wanting us to become “followers.” Media allows the presentation of a carefully curated image that crops away all the less desirable parts. Don’t be fooled by the outward appearance.
What we need is discernment. We need the ability to recognize the good from the bad.
Who are the dominant voices speaking into your lives?
- Who shapes your view of the world?
- Who is most likely to be able to sell you something?
- Who shapes your politics?
Ask God for discernment. Take time today to ask the Lord to open your eyes to see what fruit they are producing.
Lord, give me discernment today.
Give me eyes to see.
Protect me from being led astray.