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Judge people by their fruit, not their words

Just back from 11 days in Romania and Spain. We coached 39 World Racers and taught 20 students at a leadership school. Along the way, we’ve helped them get a world view, forge their identities, and learn to live in community. It’s gratifying to see that the ministry is making a difference in thei…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Just back from 11 days in Romania and Spain. We coached 39 World Racers and taught 20 students at a leadership school. Along the way, we’ve helped them get a world view, forge their identities, and learn to live in community. It’s gratifying to see that the ministry is making a difference in their lives.
That’s the real world – but in the anonymity of the blogging universe where people treat each other like cardboard cutouts instead of real people, sometimes I get attacked by Christians for what I believe. And although I could respond with counterpoints, mostly I sense God asking me not to engage in a digital argument.
Jesus cared about what his disciples believed. “Who do you say that I am?”  He asked them. On this critical issue, Peter answered well: “You are the Christ.” But beyond that, he saves most of his rebukes not for what they said, but what they did. “We couldn’t cast the demon out,” they said. “Oh ye of little faith,” was his assessment.
This was a Hebraic approach to words and actions. Jesus said to look at a person’s fruit (Luke 6:44). The Greek approach can be seen on Mars Hill where words were more important (“Athenians…spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” Acts 17:21).
Our culture seems more Greek than Hebrew. Clearly belief determines action – you need both. But what is more important, your orthodoxy (what you believe) or your orthopraxy (what you do)?

Comments (9)

  • Thats complicated…. I often wonder about that.
    Can you perhaps believe almost anything in the realm of believing in God our Creator and Christ dying for mankind and have good fruit and anything else in between not really matter in the end…except those core beliefs? Love abundantly and also good fruit is helpful…
    That could reference to lets say the Amish people and their anti social community… good moral people who love God, honor Christ and probably have lots of good fruit amongst themselves and their neighbors..just not towards the ‘world’ which includes us out here who are not Amish… in their world of good and hard work and belief in Christ… will their beliefs that have kept them separate from doing ministry and outreach to anyone but amongst themselves matter in the very end of time and before God? Or other denominations that belief some crazy things… does that all matter in the end?

  • While my beliefs are of paramount importance…I think it is the belief in Jesus, not the minutae and rules that can get you bogged down in orthopraxy every step of the way, so for me the fruit that people see from my life is the litmus test. I have also been attacked, and also sense God, the God of peace and reconciliation, directing me not to engage.

    Rest well.

  • As a pastor who is a part of a county-wide renewal among churches and pastors (called UNO “Unity in Northeast Ohio” in its 5th year), I came together with other churches and pastors from across denominational lines for the purpose of bringing revival to our community. While only about one in five churches and pastors joined us, we have seen the fruit of what happens when we set aside our “agendas” for the Kingdom. This year, we will host our second “Convoy of Hope” (last year had the largest turnout of volunteers in any Convoy event), as well as community wide worship events and evangelistic ministries. Those who avoid us over “orthodoxy” are missing their Kairos moment in Kingdom history. Imagine, evangelicals, pentecostals, baptists, evangelicals…all praying, worshiping together, serving together…for the purpose of the Kingdom and the glory of the King!

    One amazing thing we learned. Our job as pastors is to “make disciples” and God’s job is to “grow the church.” When we get those backwards, we work in competition with our brothers and miss out on the Kingdom.

  • Wow I was stuck on this topic this morning.

    One, I know your fruit- it’s good.

    Two, I don’t see how any good fruit comes apart from love, faith, and humility- all the debate and orthodoxy does not come from humble love faith and hope.

    Fruit comes from remaining in Jesus and committing to a painful process- hard work and perseverance. I am learning this- the fruit is not a product of ambition like running a nonprofit- sometimes I think we measure the fruit in Christianity much differently than Jesus will measure it.

  • I as get my head around the trip to Mijas, I realize that none of the heady information was important. It was the personal connections and Jesus loving us through each other that makes the difference.

    Thank you, Seth & Karen (and Andrew & Mo) for loving two wayward souls and connecting us to a fruitful grove of friends.

  • Amen.

    Lead by example, as you do Seth.

    Many have lost touch with the church because those “preaching” in some churches are not living their own sermons.

  • That transition right there is what makes it difficult to love some of my brothers and sisters, especially those in seminary situations. I can literally set my phone down and come back in 15 minutes while these friends go on and on about their counterpoints to various authors, seminar speakers or pop-theologians they interact with.

    I can’t remember what a friend challenged my theology with but I had to respond, “Jesus, as well as the Disciples in their writings, made it clear more than once that love is the measuring stick. You bring your argument and I will bring my fruit.”

    Oy, Momma… To love the Church! Spirit strengthen us!

  • I agree Seth, all talk and no action is very easy specially via internet. All action and no spiritual foundation becomes a humanistic attempt to fix the world. It has to be both, and you do just that. You speak out the teachings of our Lord , and also put them in action in a loving and practical way, like Jesus did. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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