Wednesday, June 28, 2017
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” Matthew 7:15-16
The obvious answer to this question of Jesus is “No, people do not pick grapes from thornbushes.” In other words, an evil person cannot bear good fruit.
This statement from our Lord can give us much guidance in the area of discernment. First of all, it’s important to be aware of the very simple fact that “false prophets” do exist. This can be understood as anyone who actively misleads another under the guise of doing good. Some may do this unknowingly, but normally the one who acts as a wolf in sheep’s clothing does so out of the intention of some form of selfish gain. The selfish gain by which they are motivated could be many things, but the basic principle of selfishness usually applies.
By way of a secular example, take a used car salesman who deceptively tells a potential car buyer that a particular car is wonderful, when the salesman actually knows the car has serious mechanical problems. His goal is the sale of the car for a selfish profit with little care about the harm done to the unexpectant buyer.
Similarly, many of us may be tempted to “sweet talk” people or say what we think others want to hear in order to get them to do what we want. This is deceptive and misleading.
When it comes to discernment, the key Jesus gives us is to look at the fruit of what someone says or does. Inevitably, when something comes from the Heart of our Lord and is in accord with His will, the fruit will be good. But when it is deceptive or misleading, cloaked in superficial “goodness,” the end result, the fruit that is born, is at most only sour grapes.
Reflect, today, upon anything in your life you are striving to decide or discern. If you truly want to know the Lord’s will in your daily decisions, try to look beyond the immediate choice to the effects that this choice will have down the road. If you sincerely see goodness as a result of certain choices, know that this is a good sign that it is good and from the Lord. If you see negative effects of certain decisions, producing bad fruit, then it is a good sign that the decision you are contemplating is not from God. Choose the good fruit and you will be choosing the will of God.
Lord, give me the grace of discerning Your holy will in my life. Help me, especially, to see the good fruit that comes as a result of following You always. As You bear good fruit in my life, dear Lord, help me to continue down that holy path toward an abundance of every good gift. Jesus, I trust in You.