My niece and I were picking strawberries today from my parents’ garden while they’re out of town. It was misting rain, so we hurriedly picked all the red ones, as well as the near-ripe ones. I noticed several deep red ones that fifteen-year-old Jenny had seemingly overlooked, so I pointed them out.
“No, I don’t want those, because the ants are already eating on them,” referring to the small holes we saw in some of the berries.
“Yes, that’s because they’re the sweetest, and ripe for the picking. We’ll just rinse the ants off and enjoy the rest of the berry. Actually, people in other parts of the world eat the ants, but I think I’ll wash them off, haha!”
“Eeeuuuuwww, grooosss!” Jenny replied with a wrinkled-up nose.
Some of the sweetest berries were, of course, the softest, and “bled” strawberry juices all over my hands as we pulled them off the vine. (Sorry, ants! We’re claiming these.) Only the firmer berries, some not yet fully ripe, stayed intact. They were pretty to look at, but likely lacked the succulent flavor of the ripe ones.
In this brief berry-picking moment, I was reminded of some important lessons.
- Sweet, ripe berries attract “critters”, who are undoubtedly drawn to their enticing aroma.
- Firm, not-so-ripe berries are usually more sour, but won’t have “holes” eaten out of them (yet), so they often appear more visually attractive.
- The softest, sweetest berries will “bleed” (strawberry juice) when you pull on them to pick them.
Okay, call me a “bleeding heart” if you want to. Here are some short and sweet (pardon the pun) lessons that were illustrated to me today:
- Kind, sweet, loving people attract other people to them. Others know if you’re “approachable”, or if you’re a sour-puss, as my mom describes it. A crabby person will repel others. Lord, help me to be loving and attractive, in the best way possible. (Jesus was like this, and therefore, even little children were drawn to Him. They would jump up in His lap, hold His hands as He walked, and feel completely safe and loved around Him. That’s how I want to be!)
- Prideful, hard hearts and a deceptive facade of “I’ve got it all figured out, and my life is just fine, thank you very much!” won’t do anyone much good. An outward appearance of beauty does not guarantee an inward sweetness. The outward will wither and be gone one day. Only the inward part will last — and matter.
- A humble, loving and sincere demeanor will sometimes make us vulnerable to being taken advantage of, and perhaps getting our feelings hurt (or worse) at time. However, those who live otherwise will miss out on a whole lot of JOY and blessings in life.
Read these powerful words from Galatians Chapter 5: (www.biblegateway.com)
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited,provoking and envying each other.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, fill me with the fruit (evidence) of the Holy Spirit, as Your Word describes. Let the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control of Your Spirit CONTROL the way I live and treat others. Draw others to Yourself through me. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen!