“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” Matthew 7:15–17
What were the primary character traits of the biblical prophets?
In truth the Bible doesn’t spend a lot of time praising the men and women God chose to entrust with the work of being his messengers. If you think about it self promotion or being promoted by others wasn’t really part of the goal of the calling. What was needed was the dedication, humility, and faithfulness to conscientiously fulfill the task given them however humble, thankless and dangerous that task might be.
Few of those who served God as his prophets received any consistent respect for their dedication. Almost all were poor. Frequently they were personally mocked and reviled and the messages they faithfully delivered were ignored. Still, most of these men and women were faithful till their final breath.
So what were their primary character traits? Love for God, love for God’s people, humility, honesty, integrity, generosity, and courage. They were both faith filled and faithful. As a group they weren’t concerned about their personal standing and honor. It was God’s standing, God’s honor, God’s name and God’s message that were to be proclaimed and promoted and his will that was to be done.
Jesus warned that there would be those that would attempt to use his name and authority to pursue their own agenda and promote their own doctrine. These he called false prophets. In the Sermon of the Mount he told us that we would recognize true and false prophets by their fruit. True prophets will be honest, humble, gentle and generous. True prophets will be godly, ethical and possess moral integrity. True prophets will understand the difference between sin and righteousness and will stand stalwartly for the right while lovingly calling all people to forsake their sin and receive of Christ’s righteousness.
The apostle Paul expressed a desire that all of God’s people would be prophets and I believe that today God is calling every man, woman, and child that claims the name of Christ to take up the mantle of the prophet and to present themselves as willing ambassadors in the service of Jesus.
All creation is waiting for the final gospel appeal. All the world is waiting to hear that message that will herald our Saviors return. Revelation foretells a final prophetic movement and today God is calling each of us to receive of the character of Christ, to become a true and faithful messenger for him and to carry his call to the every nation, every language and every people.