Last year my wife, Hilary, and I were a bit disappointed with our vegetable garden.
This year would be different. We started our seeds indoors. We had tomato plants growing on our windowsills, herbs in pots in our our kitchen, and peppers sprouting up in our living room. And since we’re parents of two young children, it’s remarkable that more plants didn’t end up knocked to the floor.
Yet, we’re still new to this whole gardening thing, and one of the ways that it showed was that we didn’t take the time to clearly label each plant.
So, when it became time to transplant our little plants to the great outdoors, we had to rely on our memory as to which plant was which.
Thinking we had done a good job, we set up our tomato cages, and, remembering last year, we were quick to install our bunny-mitigation fence.
A few weeks later our neighbor stopped by, and we proudly showed off our garden. With a smile he said, “You know those plants right there aren’t tomatoes, don’t you? Those are peppers!” Although were were slightly embarrassed, we were grateful he told us in time to plant some actual tomatoes.
Every farmer and every gardener knows certain plants grow certain fruits. You won’t find soybeans on a corn stalk, and pepper plants don't grow tomatoes.
Jesus said as much in Matthew 12:33b “[F]or a tree is recognized by its fruit.”
However, Jesus wasn’t really talking about growing crops or produce. Jesus was talking about growing people.
He continues the passage in verse 35: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”
In other words, Jesus is trying to say although its easy to think we are good with God, we only need to look as far as the “fruit” that comes out of our lives to see our hearts.
Are we prideful, arrogant, or angry all the time? Are we only looking out for ourselves? Maybe we suffer from self-righteousness, thinking that we are good because we aren’t as bad as someone else.
Don’t be mistaken like I was, thinking I was growing tomatoes when really I had a bunch of peppers.
Take some time with the Lord this week to ask: “God, would you reveal to me the true state of my heart? Forgive me and help me grow in Christlikeness.”