Do you produce good fruits? If so, are they sweet and nutritious, or are they shining on the outside but wormy on the inside?
Good fruits? Well, I'm talking about the good works you do. But how can good works be wormy? "Good" works are wormy and rotten when they are done with the wrong motive. They are truly good and nutritious when they are done with the right motive.
Jesus Christ said, "Every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. A good tree can't produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." (Matthew 7:17-18, 20, WEB)
We know someone only by judging the works they do, good or bad. However, judging one's fruit can be tricky business, as some fruits may appear good outside, but are truly wormy and rotten inside. Such "good" works are done with the wrong motives. So we're to be aware of those who come to us "in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves." (Matthew 7:15)
When we perform good deeds, our motive--the reason why we perform them--is more important than the works themselves. Good works done with the wrong motive may receive the praise of man, but will not receive the most valued praise: that of Yahweh God our Creator.
Charitable giving, praying, and fasting all are good works, but can be done with the wrong motives, thus making them fruitless in God's sight. What can be some of the wrong motives behind these three good works that people do? Let's see what Jesus taught:
Jesus said, "Be careful that you don't do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Therefore when you do merciful deeds, don't sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may get glory from men. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you do merciful deeds, don't let your left hand know what your right hand does, so that your merciful deeds may be in secret, then your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." (Matthew 6:1-4)
When we give alms to the poor, we should not make a show to others of how charitable we have been. Certainly, when we spread word of the great deeds we've done, we will receive praise from our friends and family, and even from the media, but that's all the praise we'll ever receive.
Our motive for feeding the hungry and clothing the naked should be our love for them. Our motive should not be the wish to receive attention from others. Even if we give all our goods to feed the poor, but don't have love, it profits us nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3).
Jesus said, "When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. In praying, don't use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking. Therefore don't be like them, for your Father knows what things you need, before you ask him." (Matthew 6:5-8)
When we pray, we should not do so for the sake of making ourselves look good in the sight of man. It is not wrong to pray in public; however, if your motive for praying publicly is to get glory from others, then your prayers would mean nothing to the One whose judgment is most important, and whose answer you most depend upon.
Our motive for praying should be expressing our deepest, sincerest feelings to our Heavenly Father. For this reason, we should not use memorized words or repetitions in our prayers. Would you greet your earthly parent each day, mechanically using memorized words? If not, then why would you pray using meaningless chants to the Parent of all parents?
Even though we can say as much as we desire to our Father in our prayers, we should not deliberately make our prayers lengthy to manipulate God, thinking that the more words we use, the more likely He will answer us. Our almighty God knows exactly what we need even before we ask Him, so it's needless for us to pray long prayers to get His attention.
Jesus said, "Moreover when you fast, don't be like the hypocrites, with sad faces. For they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen by men to be fasting. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; so that you are not seen by men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:16-18)
When we fast, we should not go around flaunting the fact that we are fasting, nor should we deliberately make ourselves reflect that we are fasting. The purpose of fasting is to discipline our physical bodies and draw closer to our Father in heaven, not to draw attention to ourselves and receive comments like, "You sure are pious or religious!" Fasting done with the wrong motive will not achieve God's will in our lives.
As you can see, our "good" works are not good in God's sight and will therefore not receive His approval when we do them with the wrong motives. All such fruits are wormy and rotten, and "every tree that doesn't bring forth good fruit [will be] cut down, and cast into the fire." (Matthew 3:10)
When you give to the poor, pray to God, and fast, what are your motives behind your actions? Do you seek glory from man, or approval from our Heavenly Father? Do you value the joy that good works bring to your spirit, or do you yearn for external rewards?
My friends, don't "lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don't break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
~*~Q&A with Dr. Shirley~*~
Question: Jesus said, "the Father is in me, and I in the Father." (John 10:38, WEB) What did he mean by that? Does that mean that God and Jesus are one and the same?
Answer: We can understand what Jesus meant by reading what Jesus said to his disciples next: "In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." (John 14:20)
So in John 10:38, Jesus didn't mean that God (the Father) and himself are one and the same, because we see that Jesus used the same description to describe himself and his disciples. We know for certain that Jesus didn't mean that he himself and his disciples were literally one and the same being; instead, they were separate individuals.
The Father and the Son are "one" in a spiritual sense. To understand this oneness, we need to understand what the Bible says about marriage. It says that when a man and woman marry, they become "one flesh": "Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) That doesn't literally mean that they become literally one person. What it means is that they become "one" in spiritual unity. In the same way, the Father and the Son are "one" in spiritual unity. They share the same spiritual qualities, purpose, goals, and they work together harmoniously to achieve their plans.
Jesus wishes all Christians to achieve this oneness, as he indicated in his prayer to the Father:
"Holy Father, keep them through your name which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are." (John 17:11)
"Not for these only do I pray, but for those also who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me. The glory which you have given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and you in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that you sent me, and loved them, even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me be with me where I am, that they may see my glory, which you have given me, for you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world hasn't known you, but I knew you; and these knew that you sent me. I made known to them your name, and will make it known; that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26)
The above passage helps us understand the concept of "oneness" or spiritual unity. Just as the Father (Yahweh) and the Son (Jesus) are "one," all believers are to be "one" with the Father and the Son. Did Jesus ask that all believers be literally one person? Of course not; that would be absurd.
The concept of "oneness" is described in two different ways: 1) we are one, and 2) you in me and I in you. For example, John 10:38 says, "The Father is in me [Jesus], and I in the Father." This verse often confuses people because they don't understand this spiritual oneness concept; they think that John 10:38 means that the Father (God) and the Son (Jesus) are the same person. On the contrary, it simply means that God and Jesus are "one" in a spiritual sense, not a physical sense. So if you see either kind of this wording in the Bible ("we are one" or "you in me and I in you"), you'll know that it means the same thing.
The concept of "oneness" runs throughout the New Testament, so it is very important to grasp this concept and understand it fully in order to understand the entire Bible so that "with one accord [we] may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"! (Romans 15:6) Amen!
~*~Dr. Shirley's Corner~*~
Study the Bible in depth in 2012!
Are you interested in obtaining in-depth knowledge of God's Word to help you deepen your understanding of God and His plans and develop a sacred relationship with your Heavenly Father? If so, you are more than welcome to sign up for the In-Depth Ultra-Ability Bible Virtual Class via e-mail.
· The study will progress in your own pace.
· You will work one-on-one with me via e-mail only.
· Your personal Bible-related questions will be answered.
· Although the virtual class has no financial cost, it will require your dedication and diligence. There will be lessons to complete and tests to take for all Bible chapters. All assignments are in short question and answer format.
· The only textbook for this program is the Bible. If you do not have a copy of the Bible, I can e-mail you the Bible text or you can read it online for free at www.BibleGateway.com.
· The class is non-denominational and is not affiliated with any church or ministry.
· You have no obligations; you may pause or stop anytime, though you are strongly encouraged to complete the study.
· This in-depth study will go through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in order.
Want to sign up for the In-Depth Ultra-Ability Bible Virtual Class and give it a try? Then just fill out the form at www.ultra-ability.com. Thank you, and I hope to spend 2012 with you in a worthwhile way by studying God's sacred Word!
May the grace and peace from Yahweh God and Jesus Christ be with you.!
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Dr. Shirley Cheng
Award-Winning Author with 27 Book Awards
Founder of Ultra-Ability Ministry
Proclaimer of Yahweh God's Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ
Author/Contributor/Editor of 35 books by age 27, Bible Teacher, Poet, Motivational Speaker, Self-Empowerment Expert, Advocate
Board member of World Positive Thinkers Club
"Although I'm blind, I can see far and wide; even though I'm disabled, I can climb high mountains. Let the ropes of hope in Yahweh God haul you high!"
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