October 28, 2013

Watch Out for Wolves!

Matthew 7:15-20

“Watch out for false prophets.”
—Matthew 7:15


When I worked at a coffee and donut shop, a police officer once tested my ability to detect a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. I failed the test; the authentic bill and the forgery were so similar that I couldn’t tell the difference. Had the officer been a con artist, I would have been duped.

Jesus warns his followers about being duped by false teachers. Sadly, there are pastors, teachers, and other leaders who try to manipulate the flock of Jesus Christ. They teach ideas that are foreign to the gospel—and if believed, they can be harmful to our faith. Often the message sounds appealing. We are told that if we just believe, God will reward us with wealth or material blessings. Often we are made to feel as if it is our job to try harder and do more to earn God’s approval.

But those are not the teachings of Christ or of faithful Christian leaders. Authentic teachers, preachers, and pastors can be identified by their fruit. They demonstrate a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ in their lives, and they cultivate the same fruit in the people they lead. Genuine Christian leaders will always point you to Jesus Christ.

When you seek leadership from Christian authors, teachers, or pastors, can you discern a genuine leader from a false one? If you are a leader, what are you doing to show authentic Christian leadership?

Good Shepherd, many seek to lead us astray by having us trust in them or in ourselves. Help us to discern genuine leaders from those who might do us harm. Amen.

About the author — Rob Toornstra

Rob Toornstra has served as pastor of Sunnyslope Christian Reformed Church in Salem, Oregon, since 2006. When not busy with pastoral duties, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amy, and their three children.

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