Matthew 6:19-7:12 - New Revised Standard Version
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Matthew 6:19-7:12 - Contemporary Version
What I mean is: Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.
“Along the way, watch out for false prophets or preachers who smile a lot and tell you everything you want to hear. They are more interested in accolades and in what you can do for them than they are vested in your salvation. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character.
“You will recognize false teachers by their fruits. You don’t find sweet, delicious grapes growing on thorny bushes, do you? You don’t find delectable figs growing in the midst of prickly thistles. People and their lives are like trees. Good trees bear beautiful, tasty fruit, but bad trees bear ugly, bitter fruit. A good tree cannot bear ugly, bitter fruit; nor can a bad tree bear fruit that is beautiful and tasty.
And what happens to the rotten trees? They are cut down. They are used for firewood.
Remember this: A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook.
“Knowing the correct words—saying ‘Master, Master’ or “Lord, Lord,” for instance—doesn’t mean that you truly know me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills.
I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You got it wrong. All you did was use me to make yourselves important.’
I won’t be impressed.
“These words I speak to you are foundational words; they are words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
“But if you just read my words but don’t try to understand them or if you are listening but not hearing what I am saying - and don’t work my words into your life, you are like a foolish carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”
With this, Jesus concluded his address.
The crowd was both surprised and in awe as they burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this.
His teaching was nothing like that of other religious teachers, but it was clear that he was speaking truths.