Bad Fruit

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit.

Luke 6:43-44

Students will always reflect the instruction of their teachers. No matter how far a student may excel beyond his or her teacher’s abilities, they will always be indebted to the guidance that was given.

When Jesus spoke of trees and their fruit, it was with an eye to the spiritual leaders of His day. In making His point, He gave us a warning: namely, not to choose the wrong teacher. And how are we to discern between good and bad teachers? Jesus says it’s by their fruit—the results that follow their teachings and actions.

We must think of fruit in relation to the teacher’s character—and character can’t be tested by measuring eloquence or giftedness. Rather, when Jesus gave instruction concerning the vine and the branches, He implied that fruitfulness equals Christlikeness (John 15:1-8). Each tree is recognized by its own fruit; therefore, the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)—will be evident in a good teacher’s life.

We must also examine the content of the teacher’s instruction. Paul addressed this issue when he wrote to his pastoral protégé Timothy, telling him to “keep a close watch on yourself”—that is, his character—“and on the teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16). Not everybody who shows up with a Bible has the listener’s best interests at heart. Not everybody who names the name of Christ is a true teacher of God’s word. False prophets abound. It is imperative, then, that as believers, we learn from the Bible not only to grow in holiness but also to be able to recognize sound doctrine, which is a mark of a godly teacher. Furthermore, we can take comfort from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who teaches us about everything and enables us to distinguish between truth and falsehood (see 1 John 2:27).

There is a direct correlation between the character of a teacher and the content of his teaching, and the impact he makes upon those who are taught. So choose your spiritual teachers and mentors wisely. Look not at their speaking gifts or their cultural connectedness or their confidence or their humor but at character and content. Without question, you will show the world the fruit of the teaching you receive. When people come around you, what will they discover? Will they see judgmentalism or bitterness or haughtiness or self-righteousness? Will they sense passivity and a lack of conviction? Or will they taste the sweet fruit of joy, peace, love, and righteousness?

Alistair Begg

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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