Anyone can sound convincing ... with speech writers and researchers and practice. But time shows if we really mean what we say.
Last night President Obama gave the State of the Union address. My high school daughter is wading through AP Government and had to evaluate the speech and its elements for some extra credit (Yay extra credit!) Sitting beside her, helping her sort through the rhetoric, she often went to the bottom line: does he mean what he says?
Jesus often addressed the Pharisees in the Gospel of Luke, because they followed Him around, trying to trip Him up, accuse Him, and undercut the growing belief in Him. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day, and they could give convincing speeches, looked good in their pharisee-guy garb, and knew the legislation of Israel like the back of their very clean hands. But Jesus makes it clear He's more interested in how genuine we are than how good we sound or look on the outside. Eventually, who we really are will rise to the surface and be exposed.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
The world is watching to see if followers of Jesus are the "real deal;" they want to see that we live what we speak. If we say we value life, then we should meet the needs of the vulnerable. If we say we treasure peace, then we should be characterized by attitudes and actions that bring people together. If we say we honor God's truth, then we should reflect it in how we live and in what grieves us.
If I say I want to encourage you to have a strong marriage through Marriage Mondays, then I'd better be growing in godliness in my own marriage. If I write about solitude and its value as a believer, then I'd better be carving out time for solitude to refresh my own spirit. If I write about how Jesus is more concerned about who we ARE than what we DO, then I'd better be praying for Him to change me as a person, instead of asking Him to steer my tasks. Harder? Yes. Authentic? Yes. More effective in the Kingdom? Absolutely. If I'm the Real Deal, I need to look less and less like a Pharisee and more and more like Jesus.
Jesus wants us to be the Real Deal. Genuine. He wants us to be unafraid to let our words show what's in our hearts and to let our hearts bear fruit that others see. No speech writers. No prompters. No researchers. Just the Holy Spirit at work in us to make us Be the Real Deal.
So what kind of a tree are you? What kind of a tree am I? Time always tells as our fruit reveals if we are the Real Deal.
(P.S. ~ Personally, I wouldn't want an entire nation listening to my every word and evaluating my motives as they appear on national TV, only to rehash them on talk shows and the internet the next day ... a President carries a lot of pressure! After posting this morning, it was pointed out to me that my reference to the President sounded a bit like a jab, and I want to clarify that it was not mean to be that. As believers, how we pray for, speak about, and submit to our government leaders and authority is part of how we show we are the "Real Deal" as followers of the God who puts those leaders in place. Believers should lead the way in praying for our President and for his wife, who carries her own load as a sounding board and encourager. When we intercede for them, we are being the "Real Deal.")