NOT WHAT YOU DO
Lord, show me how to be authentic.
Read Matthew 12:22–37
22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.
30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow would you define a “real” Christian?
Sometimes Christians are defined by negatives. In my childhood it was a long list including not smoking, drinking, swearing, dancing, playing cards or gambling. And for the Pharisees, it included not doing the unexpected, not challenging the status quo of religion.
But what does Jesus do? He does the astonishing (23) and the challenging. He speaks about transformation from deep inside, again challenging the perceived view that what you did, or how you kept the Law, was what God required (35). Jesus talks of being fruit inspectors (33), illustrating that what comes from the heart shows what the heart is truly like—because the heart is where every part of life originates.
It’s not what we are like — what we say, what we do — at church and on Sundays; it’s what we are like the rest of the week — at work, at home, driving on the road, stuck in a line at the checkout, faced with too much to do and too little time in which to do it. That’s when the good fruit (33–37) shows: a real transformation by the power of the Spirit into Christlikeness. Without that, the Spirit is quenched and hindered (31,32). It’s not what you do, it’s who you really are that matters.
What comes out when you are “squeezed” by circumstances? Out of the heart the mouth speaks (34). When you are tested today, choose thanksgiving or praise as your first response.
God, I want to be Your child through and through. May Your Spirit grow lasting fruit within me that can be shared with the world.