The Sermon on the Mount is an extensive collection of teachings by Jesus. There are many lessons we can learn by studying each section. In today’s Our Daily Bread devotional, the reference was to Matthew 7:12-23. This section starts with the Golden Rule and includes three themes.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.Matthew 7:12
- The Narrow and Wide Gates Matthew 7:13-14
- True and False Prophets Matthew 7:15-20
- True and False Disciples Matthew 7:21-23
Each of these four topics causes me to pause and think, but what caught my attention this morning comes from #2 above.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?Matthew 7:16
Much of what I currently do involves supporting pastors who are planting new churches. They look to me for direction, for advice and support. The contrast between the three passages above paints a picture that rather black and white, either you are or you are not. My thought this morning is simple, “am I a thornbush or thistle?” When I sense resistance, is that because I’m moving against the grain in the wrong direction or is the one I am leading moving in the wrong direction?
This tension is important to work through and I think Jesus places these topics side by side to help us appreciate that will need to work through issues together, that we need to examine where the fruit is coming from. A thornbush produces thorns. In the heat of the battle, it’s often not so clear to see. Perhaps we’re supposed to backup a bit and look at the passage just before Matthew 7:7-11, to simply ask, to seek and to knock.
I wouldn’t intentionally grab a thornbush, but I might if I don’t slow down and consider the source. It’s my greatest desire to be a tree that produces good fruit–fruit approved by Christ. How do I do this? Primarily by seeking Christ first, by hearing His voice, reading His word. This is where strength comes from.
Jesus, help me learn from your actions, your words, your life. Teach me to be a tree of good fruit and help me see when I’m making mistakes in the process so I can turn and move with you.