By Your Fruit Ye Shall Be Known
In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior counseled His disciples to beware of hypocrites (those “who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly . . . are ravening wolves.”) Matthew 7:15. Such persons are labeled “false prophets”. We easily see the application of this warning to persons who profess Jesus Christ but act in ways which are contrary to His teachings. The Savior established a simple test by which we may recognize false prophets: “[B]y their fruits ye shall know them.”
This same test can and should be applied to us as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. People everywhere constantly are watching us. They are judging us. Almost always the question in the minds of these people is something like: “Why is he doing that? That seems different than what his Church teaches.”
Recently I had an experience with such judgment. I was standing in line, waiting to enter an airport. People were pushing in front of me, causing me to wait longer than I felt was right. I became frustrated and started to block people who were trying to push in front of me. My frustration was showing in my actions and on my face. Then, I heard a voice from behind me say: “He can’t get mad, he is a man of God.” I was wearing my missionary name tag at the time, proclaiming to all my membership in the Lord’s Church.
I think often of that experience. It would be very easy for me to justify my behavior, with thoughts such as “I was there first” or “I should not have to wait for 8 or 10 people to crowd in front of me.” Then, I remember the words of the Savior to the Nephites at the Temple:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;
Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
I am reminded that we are expected to be an example – a light which shines before all people. This was the exact challenge Paul gave to Timothy: “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”are
So, the man behind me in the line was correct. Because I profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ, my behavior must follow the pattern He set, “in word, in conversation, in charity.” Id.Id.
We are “set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men. . . .” When we live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, people want to know more about what makes us different. People will respond to our example when we tell them that we are followers of Jesus Christ. “This pattern – being a faithful disciple in order to help others become faithful disciples. . .” is the Lord’s way to help others come to Him.
The Church will not grow unless those around us see the positive benefits which come from membership. They must see that fathers do not abuse their wives or children. Rather, they express love for their family. Families are happier, without the contention which often manifests. Guided by the Word of Wisdom, drunkenness and drug abuse are eliminated. Kindness and service toward others become part of the behavior of all Church members. Smiles brighten the faces of members of the Church who are living its principles.
President Uchtdorf summarized the power of example in a recent General Conference:
The most effective way to preach the gospel is through example. If we live according to our beliefs, people will notice. If the countenance of Jesus Christ shines in our lives, if we are joyful and at peace with the world, people will want to know why. One of the greatest sermons ever pronounced on missionary work is this simple thought attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” Opportunities to do so are all around us.
 Matthew 7:20
 3 Nephi 12:14-16
 1 Timothy 4:12
 D&C 103:9
 Handbook 2, §3.1
 General Conference, April 2011: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”