I had an epiphany today whilst pruning my tomato plants. It’s something I’ve heard before but it suddenly hit me in a deeper way.
While I was pruning my tomato plants, I realized one of my plants was beginning to wilt. The more I pruned, I quickly realized my plant wasn’t just wilting, it was overrun by disease. I continued pruning and clipping and moved onto my next plant which looked much healthier… but again, the more I clipped, I began to realize that the infection was starting to spread in this plant as well. It wasn’t as far gone as the other one, but it had already started. I went back to my original plant to inspect it, and at that point I realized the whole plant was pretty much done for.
It will bear no more fruit this year because of the disease, and since the disease started spreading in my next plant, it will likely die as well.
Then I wondered: was it inevitable for my second tomato plant to become infected? I think so. I mean, disclaimer, I’m by no means a biologist, but I can see it happening before my eyes. These two plants grew together, their roots are intermingled. They drink from the same soil and water. They are both bound to be infected, one after the next.
It reminded me of that verse in the Bible, “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
When I was a teenager, I hated this verse because my parents always used it when telling me I wasn’t allowed to hang out with certain people. I always told my parents, “it’s not like that! I’m a good example for them. I’m being the Christian in their lives.”
But how likely is it that my non-infected tomato plant would disinfect the diseased plant? It’s not likely, and actually I’m watching the opposite take place. The diseased plant is killing my otherwise healthy plant.
My parents were right, of course. The bad company did corrupt me. I wasn’t Jesus to them, instead I got sucked in and joined in on the craziness (see my testimony for more on that.)
“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
This whole plant parallel could also be (and is in the Bible) applied on a personal level – to sin. As Christians, I think sometimes we hide in the good things we’re doing. We have sin, of course, but I think sometimes we justify our sin because we are doing A, B, and C correctly: We’re serving faithfully in the church, we tithe, we open doors for strangers, and so on. But then we overeat to the point of gluttony, we are puffed up with pride, bitterness and what-have-you. But somehow we feel like the goodness in us will cancel out the bad.
We feel like the clean part will disinfect the diseased part. But you know what? It won’t. The disease will actually spread and corrupt other parts as well. That’s why it’s important to allow ourselves to be pruned by God on the daily – so that disease will never spread to the point of our own destruction.
Yes, it hurts.
Yes, I hate when God shows me my pride, or my bitterness, or my lust, or envy, and the list goes on. But you know what? When he shows me my sin, I can repent and work on that area, and the result is that I grow closer to Him and I grow as a human.
Pruning is necessary for a plant to be healthy, but it means some things must be clipped off and thrown away. Parts have to be pulled off, and sometimes, neighboring plants have to be uprooted and destroyed so that the infection doesn’t spread and kill the next plant.
Are there any diseased parts in your life that need to be uprooted?
Is there anything in your life that you need to allow God to prune?
“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”