Looking for the Fruit
Have you ever crossed paths with someone in your life and wanted to know if they were truly godly? For a single person, this is an especially critical issue in qualifying a potential mate. How many times have you dated someone and ended up totally missing the mark? What you thought was "of God" turned out to be of your own desires. The amazing thing is that God knew we would all face this issue, and He provided very practical advice on the situation. This is not one of those "gray" areas that you have to decipher. It's really black and white, and easily understandable.
In The Sermon on The Mount, Jesus warned us about false prophets who come into our paths (those who utter falsehoods under the name of divine prophecies). "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Mat. 7:15) Have you ever encountered someone who told you that God revealed certain things about you to them; that God brought you together? If so, be cautious and use God's litmus test to determine if that is true. How do you do this? Jesus said, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." (Mat. 7:16) and "…every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit." (Mat. 7:17) Finally, Jesus said, "…by their fruits ye shall know them." (Mat. 7:20). Quite clearly, Jesus is giving us the measuring stick by which to determine if someone's motives are Godly.
Now that we know to look for fruit, what are the fruits exactly? The Bible tells us what these are: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Gal. 5:22-23)
Love: does this person have a love for God, for themselves, and for others? Is it expressed through a righteous life? The Word tells us that if we truly love God, we will keep His commandments.
Joy: does this person have an underlying joy in their life that rises above circumstance?
Peace: does this person have a spirit of peace that understands God is always in control, no matter what they face?
Longsuffering: does this person have patience, endurance, consistency, steadfastness, and perseverance through life's trials and tribulations?
Gentleness: does this person have moral goodness, integrity (truth, honesty, reliability, uprightness), benignity, and kindness towards themselves and others?
Goodness: does this person have uprightness of heart and life, charity, compassion, generosity, and empathy for others?
Faith: does this person express fidelity (loyalty, trustworthiness, commitment, devotion), faithfulness, and has the character of one who can be relied on?
Meekness: does this person express gentleness and mildness (tenderness, warmth, mercy, compassion)? Is this person quick tempered?
Temperance: does this person display self-control (the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites)?
These are the standards by which we must discern another's motives. However, we all sin and are constantly striving to be more Christ-like and will lack in many of these areas. But we must look for an overwhelming majority of fruits in a person's life before we open ourselves to a deeper relationship.
There may be people who really are seeking the Lord and believe that the Lord is speaking to them about you. But, because of sin in their lives, they may be confusing the will of God with their own fleshly desires. At the same time, be CAREFUL not to judge someone in their walk with the Lord. "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Mat. 7:1) We don't know where they are in their walk and how God is raising them up. However, we do need to guard our own hearts and make wise decisions about who we yoke our lives with.
If you are in a relationship with a brother or sister who is sinning, God gives us the answer - PRAY! "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask*, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death." (1 Jo. 5:16) *The word "ask" can be translated as "intercede." We can get on our knees and intercede with prayer for these people. In turn, God will give them LIFE. I love this quote that I found regarding this passage, "Life was in process of being forfeited by the sinning brother when the believer's intercession obtained its restoration." How much more love can we show for another, by praying for them, especially if we were wronged by that person?
Jesus also warns us about those who refuse the Truth of the Word. "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." (Mat. 7:6) Unfortunately, some people will not heed the Word, even though we pray for them. They rebel, turn against God, and even treat you with rudeness, disrespect, and evil intentions. For these people, Jesus tells us to turn away, for our own sakes.
You may have heard that the word BIBLE is an acronym for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Can you see the instruction here?
My prayer is that you all receive the Word in your heart and use the instructions of the Lord regarding your search for a spouse. Lift up one another, wash each other with the Word, and pray earnestly for those who are struggling. Pray diligently for God's will in your lives and that you have empathy, discernment, and love. Most of all, I pray you receive all the riches of God's blessings. Amen.
Copyright 2006 From My Heart To Yours