The scripture for today is Matthew 7:15-20, NRSV.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.
When Christ speaks to his disciples about being careful of false prophets, the ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing, he’s referring to the pious … the pharisees … the “pretend” shepherds who care for the flock but are really wolves that destroy the flock. They prey on the unstable. They are hard to detect. Yet, Christ says their fruit will ultimately manifest. It may take some time, yet the fruit will manifest – establishing whether the person is a true teacher or a false one.
Who are the false prophets of today? In many ways, false prophets are no different today. They often come in customary evangelical clothing. They may go to prestigious seminaries. They often quote scripture. I encountered a false prophet about a year ago. I was walking out of a shopping mall and there he was, standing by his Rolls-Royce. He was pleasant. We exchanged words. He gave me his business card and his 30 second elevator speech. I looked him up. He was indeed a ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing. His fruit (criminal charges and convictions) was all over the internet … in print, in videos, in his own words. He had even commented that if you tell people God speaks to you, they throw money at you. A few months later, there he was, on a huge billboard near the airport. I wondered how many people were following him … this wolf in sheep’s clothing.
It isn’t always this easy to tell, however. How will we know them?
We will know them by their fruit. Are they preaching the Gospel? Are they living the Gospel?
Dear God, you know my heart. Help me to beware of false prophets. Help me to know the good trees from the bad. Help me to always share the Gospel and share your love with everyone I encounter. Amen.
Debbie Schroeder-Saulnier email@example.com
Prayer Concern – Those who get caught up by today’s false prophets.