A friend of ours was in an important meeting, and came out of it with some troubled thoughts. One person there had heard something said about someone and wondered if that kind of behaviour could be right. Another quoted what the person in question was reported to have said, and was convinced this wasn’t scriptural. And a third person had read something about the person´s actions, and couldn’t agree with them. None of the people had ever met the person they were talking about, but they all came to the conclusion they had better avoid him, as he obviously held some suspect opinions. Our friend wasn’t happy, she sensed something was very wrong, not with the person discussed, but with the way the discussion had gone and the conclusion most of those present had reached.
And of course something was wrong! God has never asked us to have an opinion of each and every person we meet. But when we need to make a judgment about someone He’s given us some simple but important principles to follow: ‘Each tree is recognized by its own fruit!’ That simply means you can´t have an opinion about those whose fruit you haven’t seen, either because there is no fruit, or because the fruit was borne too far away from you to be seen.
There is a lesson in this that I am trying to learn. Contrary to what some tell me, and even demand of me, I don’t have to have an opinion about everything and everyone! When Peter saw John, he asked Jesus “What about him?” Jesus´ answer was simple “…what is that to you?” Maybe what Jesus said really meant “Peter, not even my opinion is the right foundation for your opinion about John. Wait till you see what fruit he bears, then you will know!”
There is another type of judgment. It sometimes happens that people speak about all the fruit they’ve had in their ministry in another place. It would seem that they are men or women of God! But wait a minute. Have you seen this fruit, or just heard about it? It may be just as dangerous to hear and believe good things about someone, as to hear and believe negative things. You´ve got to see the fruit before you pronounce a judgment on the tree, whether it’s good or bad.
As for me, this is a lesson I’m trying to learn. And the more I can follow the words of Jesus, to have an opinion only about those whose fruit I have seen, the more I can relax and be at peace. The trees far away simply aren’t my business. What a relief! What a blessing! As for me, today, the words of Jesus to Peter are very accurate: ‘you must follow me’ (John 21:22).
Today is a day for me to do what I should do – follow, and not to do what I shouldn’t do - make up an opinion about those whose fruit I have neither seen nor tasted. Lord, help me, to do my homework in this area today!
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