Matthew 7v15-20 “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.”
When I read the analogy of the tree bearing good or bad fruit in Matthew 7, it stood out to me as the strand that runs right through all the other passages. What characterizes Ezra, Noah, and Stephen? Simply put, according to Matthew 7 it is their fruit. In Genesis 7 Noah is following the Lord’s command to every last detail as he loads the ark.
Genesis 7v5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.
In fact all over the Old Testament that refrain is echoed about various leaders, did they do al that the Lord commanded them or not? Which makes me ask the question of myself, do I do all the Lord commands me? If Jesus were to follow me around for a day, would he say that I bear good fruit, or bad?
Ezra 7:10 Now Ezra had dedicated himself to the study of the law of the Lord, to its observance, and to teaching its statutes and judgments in Israel.
When I look at Ezra I ask myself, am I really dedicated to studying the word? Or sometimes is it just something I do out of some false sense of obligation. Do I delight in the law of the Lord? Meditate on it day and night as the Psalmist says in Psalm 1?
Acts 6:8 Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.
In Acts 7 Stephen stands up against the Jewish leaders (whom Jesus was referring to as wolves in sheep’s clothing) and calls them out for never listening to the prophets of the Lord. Stephen is described a chapter before as ‘full of grace and power.’
Would someone ever describe me that way? I doubt it.
Men and women of God in the scriptures and today that I look up to humble me. I aspire to live a life full of God’s grace and power, but am I taking the small daily steps towards God that they did? The tree that bears good fruit grows slowly, am I patient?