“Truth will out” is an adage at least as old as Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. According to the Gospels, Jesus often spoke about the inescapability of truth. He both opens and closes this passage in his Sermon on the Mount with You will know them by their fruits (vv. 16, 20). He restates the idea later in a conflict with the religious authorities. Isn’t this at least part of the message of the parable of the wheat and the tares? On the day of his most public entry into Jerusalem, the authorities rebuke Jesus for allowing his joyful followers to praise him as “the king, who comes in the name of the Lord!” This was a dangerously subversive act. Jesus responds by saying, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out!” Speaking truth to power can get you crucified in the court of public opinion.
So, in a time of unrest and upheaval, are the words “The tree is known by its fruit” a threat or a promise? Must we wait for the harvest of wheat or tares to find out? How do we discern the difference between truth and falsehood in the age of intentional and widespread misinformation, disinformation, and obvious lies? How do we know which prophets are false?
Look at the fruit. Is it life-giving or poisonous? Who loses and who profits if the prophet is false? Jesus is the standard by which we measure everything else. Shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus told the uncertain Thomas, “I am the truth.” How do we measure our lives and our witness by that measure of Jesus? Are we true?
What is the fruit of your labor? What is the truth of your life?
Merciful Redeemer, help us to walk in your way, cling to the truth, and flourish in your light so the fruit of our lives will be justice, mercy, and faithful humility. Amen.