Bad Fruit

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
Galatians 5:22-23

“You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.”
Matthew 7:16-18

Last spring I was walking around our yard, and thought that I’d found volunteer watermelon plants along the back edge of our property. I figured this just meant that someone had thrown out the remnants of a snack at some point, and maybe we were going to get some free melons come the fall. Little did I know what was in store for us.

As the plants grew, they didn’t turn into vines loaded with sweet delicious fruit. Instead they developed hundreds of extremely sharp thorns, and round seed pods also covered with thorns. The plants multiplied throughout our yard, and we soon had quite a mess on our hands. What we had wasn’t watermelon, but buffalo bur.

This year the plants are back again, and we find a few dozen each week. Now we know what to look for though, and are able to remove most of them before they start putting on seeds. They’re still difficult to work with – we have to wear special gloves to remove them (the thorns go through regular leather gloves with ease.) And if you happen to get a thorn in your skin, after a few days the area around the thorn hardens and dies, much like the skin of a blister that’s popped.

Sometimes things like that can happen in our lives too. We think that something is ok, and maybe even good, so we ignore it for a bit and let it grow…only to find that it’s not what we thought it was. At first it looked like the beginning of some pretty awesome fruit, until the thorns came out, revealing its true nature. Sin can be that way in our lives; that’s what happened in the garden of Eden after all. Just like with the buffalo bur in our yard, we need to be cognizant of the sin in our lives too.

That doesn’t mean that we need to spend our entire lives trying to eradicate things as soon as they crop up, obsessing over every little leaf that might possibly look like a young bur. There are a lot of times I’ll notice a small dead buffalo bur plant in the yard; it didn’t grow enough to become a threat in the time that it had, and mother nature eliminated it for me. So rather than spending all day and night roving the yard on my hands and knees looking for every plant to destroy, I just keep a watchful eye as I walk around the yard.

It’s the same in our lives, we keep a prayerful eye on the condition of our hearts; not watching for every little thing that flutters past, but watching for things that take root and start to grow. When we find one, we prayerfully put on our gloves and cut it out before it has the chance to cause us real trouble…because once it bears fruit and the seed pods open, things will become much more difficult.