Do you remember playing the game, “follow the leader”? My kids used to love playing this game with me at the playgrounds around our house. They knew which tubes or slides I couldn’t really fit in and would always laugh to see me struggle to get through. Yep, they love to see me in awkward situations!
Now imagine, instead of one leader, the group lines up behind three leaders, each heading out in different directions. What do you do? Who do you follow? How would you know?
When it comes to our faith, there is only one true path to the Father: Jesus. He said very clearly, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” At times, there will be many people trying to tell us what it means to follow Jesus. “Jesus says do this!” “No, Jesus really wants you do this!” “Jesus promises if you do this, you’ll get this!” And I know this will be shocking to hear (sarcasm), but not all of them truly represent what Jesus really said or desired. Just because they lead a large church or have a television show of their teaching doesn’t make them “True” Prophets.
In this passage, Jesus makes it clear that the voices we listen to matter. They can lead us down the path of destruction. So He warns us to be discerning of who we follow. Examine their fruit if you want to know if they are legitimate or not.
God gave us His Word to serve as a measuring stick of the fruit we see. Good trees, good prophets, good leaders will not only guide us to and through the narrow gate, but will be demonstrating the fruit of God’s Spirit being lived in their own lives. Then we can be confident they are helping to point us to the one true Path, the path of righteousness and life.
For me, this passage is a reminder that it is not enough to listen to someone else’s teaching to grow. There is a need and responsibility for me to respond to God’s grace by studying and knowing His Word, so that I can effectively discern the other teachers I hear.
- Why do you think it can be easy for us to follow “wolves in sheep’s clothing”? What makes it easier or harder for this to happen?
- Have you ever questioned the teaching of a leader in a church you’ve attended? How did you pursue or reconcile your concerns?
by Jim Caler
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