Judging a Tree by its Fruit
For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit; nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. Jesus, as recorded in Luke 6:43
According to the words of Jesus, are we to judge fruit in order to determine whether the tree (aka, the person) is good or bad? While some suggest he did not mean anything of the sort, it seems that quite a few demand that he did ... and some of them will tell you exactly how to do it. Others claim that God blesses a select few with the spiritual gift of "discernment" so he might reveal who is true and who is false.
I know I have been added to more than one man's hit list, and I am going to tell you about one of the more memorable of these inspections. Initially, this particular self-proclaimed discerner-of-spirits highly regarded me as a "true teacher of God's grace". Now, before you get too impressed - cough, cough - you need to know that I was later downgraded to "false teacher" ... and a dangerous one at that! After all, I had been able to "deceive" the guy who had judged me so highly. Of course, he felt obligated to warn everyone he could about the danger I posed. But verily, I say unto you, fear not, for this same man later reinstated me back into the "teacher of grace" category. Although the praise was quite diminished and reluctantly bestowed ... like a newspaper retraction strategically buried on a small corner deep inside the paper.
So, why did I relate this story? No, no, it is not to focus attention on myself, nor upon the one who flip-flopped in his judgment of me. I rather want you to consider the basis upon which you have learned to validate your own judgments. And no, I do not refer to your religious, Biblical upbringing, even though there is a definite connection. I suggest that no one needs to step foot into a religious institution to learn this contradictory kind of judgment. Of course, if you want to excel at it, you may want to get the training. But then again, numerous other institutions exist by which your judgmental education might be refined.
What we have all learned regarding judgment in this world has come by the reasoning of the natural mind. We have manipulated every bit of truth that has come our way so that it fits like pieces forced together from different puzzles. And we have used our picture of truth to justify our contradictory judgments. However, there is another reasoning, a reasoning that comes from God and cannot be grasped by the natural mind ... not even when it uses words or concepts of truth. Is there any wonder then that the religiously educated mind would have as much difficulty in understanding what is good and what is bad as does the scientifically educated mind?