Hi, my name is Malia Marshall. I am a member of the Near Northwest
Home Group through Riverside! I am a senior at the University of Notre
Dame, and I am originally from Portland, Oregon. I have been attending
Riverside since my freshman year at Notre Dame, and I am also a Young
Life leader at Jefferson Intermediate in South Bend.
- Take a moment to stop and read Matthew 7:15-28.
When I read this passage, I am struck by Jesus’s warnings against
following false prophets who “come to you in sheep’s clothing” but are
“ferocious wolves” on the inside. He goes on to say that we will recognize
whether someone is worthy of our trust by the fruit they produce. What
I think is interesting about this metaphor is that the false prophets (the
“wolves”) who mislead people and should not be trusted by followers of
Jesus, disguise themselves as harmless sheep who seem very nice and
very trustworthy. Jesus then says that to tell what someone is really like,
we should not pay attention to their appealing words, but instead, pay
attention to whether they live their lives in a way honoring to God.
This part of the passage stuck out to me because I am discouraged
when I see and read about Christian leaders who misuse Christianity
and their power in ways that harm people and that do not reflect the life
and teachings of Jesus. Some examples of this include Christian leaders
who use their influences in ways that demean groups of people, abuse
women, promote violence, or seek personal wealth/glory.
While we are all imperfect people deserving of grace, sometimes actions
of Christian leaders come to light that are so egregiously against the vision of Christ, and I find it difficult to understand in the aftermath how other Christians didn’t see the warning signs or chose to look the other way when they did. The end of the Sermon on the Mount reminds me that the actions of Christian leaders (their “fruit”) really do matter and should be evaluated. This doesn’t mean expecting perfection from people, but it does mean it is important to hold people, especially leaders, accountable for acting in a godly and loving way. I pray that while remembering to treat all with grace, I would also have the wisdom and discernment to know and not dismiss when a Christian leader produces bad fruit in their lives.
Consider the following questions as you reflect on today’s reading:
- What kind of fruit would a “false prophet” produce?
- What fruits do you believe are important for Christians to show in their lives? (See Galatians 5:22-23).