We are in a time when economic crisis and poverty have led many to use the gospel to achieve their evil ends. We are in an era when people seek prophecies and when they get the prophecy, they seem to be fulfilled. Although Jesus tells us today, that by their fruits we shall know them.
A pregnant young lady who was already in her labour messaged me one day while in the hospital. She told me that she is deeply afraid. She said “Fr. my husband seems to be an occultist”. First of all, I asked the reason for such suspicion.
She opened up, that one woman who is a renowned prophetess in their hometown told her mother that her husband is an occultist and because of that, She may die while giving birth.
The prophetess said that the seeming occultist husband has tied her womb somewhere that she cannot deliver and may die during childbirth. And that the only way to save her is for them to come to her hospital so she will pray for her and help her in the delivery. Also they need to sow some seeds in the form of money.
The mother, siblings and the lady in question became afraid. It was then I took time to counsel her against that and raised her faith to the extent I put my priesthood on the line that if anything happens to her, I will quit the priesthood. That gave her full assurance.
And to the glory of God, she delivered safely. When I asked her about the powerful, prophetic and renowned prophet, She said that since then, she has stopped picking up their calls.
This and many more are what is happening in our land today. Many are using the gullibility of our people to make money in the name of God. We forget that in the end, judgement follows everyone.
The Fake and the True.
Today, we do not know who the real and true Prophets of God are. We do not know those who wake up one day and begin a church and those who are truly for the sake of touching and saving souls. We do not know those whose heart is truly to serve and not for the sake of achieving any selfish end.
Today, many people are using the name of God to steal. Many are using the name of God to dupe people of their hard-earned money.
Today, the increasing number of solution centres, prayer houses, ministries etc is increasing. Some claim to see vision, some claim to be healers, some claim that when you come to them, you must receive miracles.
Many self-acclaimed men of God, in the quest to make money, to become popular and powerful, have made themselves equal to God. And we are easily deceived because we want Ebe O na eme (where it is happening). So, today Jesus tells us to beware.
It is not everyone who calls Himself/herself a man of God is truly a man of God. Despite whatever the person does, by their fruits, we shall know them.
These fruits are not the healing, the power, and fake miracles you see them advertising. Just read along, you will understand what Jesus means when He says by their fruits we shall know them.
So in today’s gospel, Jesus comes up with a solution that we can know who is who by the fruit the person produces. Therefore, amid this confusion, by their fruits, we shall know them.
Beware of False Prophets.
False means something that is not real, something that is fake. Therefore, false prophets are those whose intentions are not to save souls. They are those whose intention is far from what they claim to be.
They come to us as preachers of the word but deep down in their hearts, this is not what they do. In false prophets, there is no hunger to search for souls, and teach the authentic word of God.
They are always seen preaching but when they are not getting what they want, they become tired and depressed. They claim to heal and prophesy but deep down within them, they know it is fake.
Today, there is an increasing number of self-acclaimed prophets of God. Anyone can wake up at midnight and declare Himself called by God.
However, Jesus tells us that one quality of this set of people is that they come to us in sheep’s clothing but they are ravenous wolves.
In John 10:12, Jesus says that what the wolves do is to attack the sheep and scatter them. Thereby these false prophets come in the guise to preach and teach the word but they end up destroying the flock.
They come in the guise to help you solve your problem but within their heart, they came for another purpose to achieve their selfish ends.
True prophets are those who are truly called by God. They are trained for it and they know that this is what their call is. Thereby they do everything within their efforts to see that God’s word is being propagated.
The problem that we have today is that we do not appreciate the true prophets of God working for us. We only focus on those who are going to give us fake prophecies for us to get a little fulfillment and hence spend our hard-earned money.
Beware of those who give you prophecies, those whose method is blaming this or that person for your problems and hence cannot solve any pinch of it.
In many churches, families, and organisations, many use the name of God to achieve their end. Some fake to be prayer warriors but truly they are not. I once heard that there is a place people learn how to speak in tongues. Wonders shall never end.
Secondly, Some people we meet sometimes pretend to be good, not knowing that they are green snakes in green grasses. Some will laugh with you and discuss a lot of things with you, not knowing that they have another intention at the back of their minds.
Jesus warns us to beware of these kinds of people. You may not be able to detect them at the beginning but in the long run, you will. For by their fruits, we shall know them.
By Their Fruits, We shall Know them.
Fruits are a common metaphor in the bible to represent the outward manifestation of a person’s faith, their behaviour and their works.
Jesus states that one will be able to identify false prophets, false friends, false love by their fruits. These sets of people will never produce good fruits. They come in the first proving to be good but at the end, you will discover they came for a particular intention.
The fruits that we produce come from the heart. When the intention of what we do is far away from what we show to people, then we are false. It may go well in the long run but in the end, the fruits that will bear show if we are true or false.
Today, Jesus asks “Can people pick grapes from thorns or figs from thistles? In the same way, a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bears good fruit”.
In the sense that when we work for God with a good, true and sincere heart, we produce goodness. But when we work for God with a negative intention, we would always produce negative results.
Hence, our hearts will always centre on those things, instead of working for God. Jesus says “for where your treasure is, there will be your heart (Matthew 6:21).
The Fruits to Produce.
Jesus says by their fruits we shall know them. We need to know the fruits Jesus talks about in the first place. This is vital to know how to distinguish the true shepherd and the wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The false prophets preach prosperity, things that people will like to hear (Jeremiah 8:11), and not repentance. They prophesy out of their imaginations and not what God truly tells them to say, (Ezekiel 13:2).
They teach false teachings and lead souls astray (Ezekiel 13:10). False prophets tear down faith (2 Timothy 2:18) and promote divisiveness, bitterness (1 Tim 6:4-5; 2 Tim 2:23), and various kinds of ungodliness (2 Tim 2:16).
They are not interested in building the faith of the people but monetary gains. The stage miracles to gain popularity and attention.
We can also see these among our fellow Christians who claim to be powerful and holy, but go home to promote hatred, wickedness, and disunity in their homes. They are the first to be in the church but they have been quarreling with anyone that comes in contact with them. By their fruits we shall know them too.
You will see that what they do and how they live their lives are different from what the gospel portrays.
The true prophets, prayer warriors, true servants of God, and even friends are those whose life, behaviours and whose work produces love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
These are fruits produced through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. By their fruits, we shall know them.
May God help us to produce good fruits and give us the grace to serve Him from a genuine heart and not for the sordid gain. Amen