Years ago there was a big Christian scandal and a large Tele-ministry fell hard. It rocked the faith of many people and brought confusion to the body of Christ. A visiting preacher to our church tried to steady the boat by preaching about how to judge ministries in the future and not be so easily fooled.
He preached from the text: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15) His view was that it was a pretty simple formula and if we all just followed it we wouldn’t be snookered again.
However, instead of comfort or clarity to me, I felt irritated. How would any of us have been able to observe fruit in this minister’s life? We only had access to his television life, not his real life. In my view there was no way we could have known in advance that in the cellar there was rotting fruit.
So what should we do? Since true fruit may not be apparent to us when we are at a distance, shouldn’t we be slower to jump on popular ministry bandwagons? I’m not saying be cynical or assume the worst but after all, viewing an orchard from the road does not give a genuine picture of the condition of each apple.
Scripture goes on to say: “grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they?” (Verse 16) That’s right. But be wise. Only up close can you tell the difference between the two.