When reading the different Christian blog sites we are confronted with the writings of a multitude of people, both bloggers and the responders, expressing their own thoughts, and often an accumulation of the thoughts of their teachers, the authors they read, as well as their understanding of the Biblical texts.
The question must be asked, How do we know whether the words written are from the mind of a false teacher, or a faithful one?
In Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 7, Jesus was teaching the crowds. One of His teachings was how to know the true from the false, but He warned them that things were not always what they seemed. In verse 15 He tells them that there are “ravenous wolves” amongst those who are His sheep. These wolves actually appear to be sheep, apparently pious, sincere, truthful, and with the best interests of His sheep at heart.
It is not necessarily so!
So He tells them, in v. 16, that You will recognize them by their fruits.
He then uses a very reasonable analogy, which He presents in question form, Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Of course the very reasonable response to His very reasonable question, must be a resounding No!
Reason, based upon evidence must be involved in forming these opinions, So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
So Jesus identified what we ought to look for, a mark of distinction.
Without this mark, we would find ourselves having a question mark hanging over all who express an opinion, whether as a teacher, a blogger, or a responder to a blog.
It is important that those we ascertain those who are trustworthy, and faithful sisters and brothers. Christ’s advice encourages us to form our opinion, or make value judgments, of the words coming from the mouths or keyboards, as to whether the authors are uttering, or writing falsehood. According to Jesus words, we are to make that assessment based upon their fruits.
What kind of fruit is being displayed when I read statements, directed towards a sister or brother, which are void of any evidence of grace?
Seems to me that such words as comparing a brother with “human excrement”, or claiming that a brother has written, or spoken heresy (with the juvenile disclaimer that the brother is not charged with being a heretic), or a sister or brother is “stupid” for what they write, are rather the expressions one would find coming from an unredeemed, pagan mind rather than Christian.
G.K.Chesterton was describing this paradoxical situation of Christians who don’t evidence grace, when he said, It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.
True generosity of spirit towards those who think differently to us only comes as we are abundantly aware of our own unmerited receipt of, and continuing need for God’s grace.
Paul described the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit to look for in the lives of all followers of Christ, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Theological education and knowledge, or conviction, will never convince anyone if not accompanied by a humble awareness of one's own propensity to be pridefully wrong.
Is it only I who cannot see the evidence of grace in the kind of statements I’ve mentioned?