Ever been to a baseball game? You’ll hear vendors crying out, “Hey! beeeeer heeeere!” or “Hot dawgs! Git yer hot dawgs!” They also scream, “Scorecards! Can’t tell the players widout a scorecard!” (you may have noticed my experience at baseball games has been exclusively in New York stadiums.)
It’s the scorecard that tells you who is who on the teams. And with the scorecard you can also keep track of the each play, marking down who scored when, which players (and in what order) played the ball in the field, and later this record can help you to relive the game and re-familiarize yourself with the players you had seen.
In real life we all need a scorecard, but not for baseball players. We need to know who the spiritual players are, the good guys from the bad guys, if you will.
The legions of the enemy don’t have uniforms, and (frankly) neither do the angels of God. The way we tell who is who is by following the advice that Yeshua gave in Matthew 7:16. In the same way you tell an orange tree from a lemon tree by looking at the fruit that grows on it, we can tell the good guys from the bad guys by looking at their fruit. A good tree gives forth good fruit, so look at the fruit of the person.
And remember that most everyone we look at is human, and like humans, not every fruit from even the best tree will always be good. And also remember that a good tree can sometimes be attacked by bad bugs, turning their fruit rotten even as it hangs on the branch (Job would be a good example of this allegory- he was treated with disdain by his friends because of the suffering God allowed to test his faith, so even though his fruit seemed bad because of the tsouris he was going through, Job was still a good tree and once the ‘bugs’ were removed, he again put forth good fruit.)
This is a hard thing to do because no one always has good fruit. The bad tree can produce fruit that seems good, but may be full of worms. As they say, the only thing worse than biting into an apple and finding a worm is finding half a worm. Sometimes we end up knowing that the fruit is bad only after having taken that bite.
The thing to do is throw the fruit away once we realize it is bad, but not let that turn us off to trying new fruits, or trusting in trees that seem to have good fruit.
The enemy will turn out what seems to be good fruit to get us to bite into it, and once we taste his fruits, we are in big trouble. That’s because the fruit of the enemy is extremely habit-forming. It tastes good, it makes us feel good and we want more of it because it appeals to our sinful nature, the natural part of us that is hedonistic and self-absorbed.
How do we tell the fruit of the enemy from godly fruit? Well, you keep score with your scorecard and you learn the players.
The scorecard we all need, if you haven’t figured it out by now, is the Word of God- the Bible. And we also need the announcer, who is the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, to keep us aware of all that is happening, play-by-play, so we know what is happening as we watch the game unfold.
Reading the bible is so important- you have heard me preach this to you hundreds of times, and I will never stop saying it. Reading the bible is so important (oops- there it is, again!) because it is the best way to know the good guys from the bad guys.
The fruits of the spirit are told to us by Shaul (Paul) in Galatians 5:22-23; and the 13 attributes of God are related by Moshe (Moses) in Exodus 34: 6-7. This is the “fruit” that we should look for. And no one will have all of these, but the ones who regularly show most of these fruits are the ones we should trust. The ones who only show a little are the ones we should watch very closely.
You don’t need to watch your friends, and you should never take your eyes off your enemies.
If you haven’t been using your scorecard, now is the time to get it out and track this game (like it or not, you are in the game of salvation and you need to pick a side.) Read Galatians and Exodus (as referenced above) to start, if nothing else. But that’s not enough- you really need to read the entire bible, that’s from Genesis to Revelations. Even if you aren’t Christian (i.e. you’re Jewish and not Messianic) go ahead and read the New Covenant writings. If you can, get a Messianic version so the subtle anti-Semitic references aren’t so distasteful, but read it. Yeshua (Jesus) did not create a new religion- that was Constantine. Yeshua preached and taught Torah because that was the only scripture there was. In fact, Yeshua was, is, and always will be the Living Torah.
Here’s a pre-game warmup for you regarding the time from Yeshua’s birth to about the Third Century: when He was born there were Jews and Pagans. That’s was all. After He started His ministry, there were Jews who did not accept Him as their Messiah, Jews who did, Gentiles (i.e., pagans) who accepted him and were converting to Judaism, and pagans who kept to their religion. After Constantine “legalized” (what at that time was being called) Christianity, at the Council of Nicea it was Constantine who created the “Christian” religion which totally separated the Jews and the (now called) Christians.
When you read the entire bible, more than once, and memorize the attributes of God and the fruits of the spirit, then you will be able to hear the Ruach tell you who to trust and who to watch out for.
As Sherlock Holmes used to say at the beginning of a case, “The game’s afoot!” This game is afoot, and has been since Adam and Eve got their eviction notice. But we’re in the Ninth inning, and the game is going to end soon.
The bible tells us that the loser will have a tremendous rally in the top of the ninth inning, and it will look as if the home team (God owns the earth so He is the home team) will be too far behind to catch up. But don’t worry- this scorecard is already filled. Yeshua will hit the ultimate Grand Slam that will defeat the challengers, and everyone on God’s team will win the universe, for all eternity.
You know that credit card that ends it’s commercials with the catch phrase, “What’s in your wallet?” Well, here’s my catch phrase: “Who’s team are you on?” And don’t be fooled by anyone who says you don’t have to choose a side because that is a lie. Yeshua tells us, clearly, that whoever is not with Him is against Him. And when you read the Tanakh, that is clearly what God says, as well. Just go to Exodus 20 and read the first two commandments, if you think God is willing to cede any part of His authority or uniqueness.
So, nu? Who’s team are you on?