Forbidden Fruit

Genesis 3:6

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”

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I have a confession to make. I LOVE pear trees. I love everything about them—the way they look, the way they smell. They calm me. The problem is that I’ve recently become aware of the environmental curse that ornamental pear trees represent. They are weak in structure, they choke the life from native trees, and they cross pollinate with other trees so that they spread like kudzu, according to Durant Ashmore of the Greenville News. Ashmore further adds that they are very difficult to get rid of, as some varieties produce 4-inch thorns. This means that bulldozing them can be the only solution.

So, at this time of year, my sin constantly accosts me. It taunts me at every turn. It is SO hard to look at these trees and see them for the danger they represent. They don’t look dangerous. They’re aesthetically beautiful, pleasing to the eye. And it occurs to me that they are not unlike so many other temptations to sin. I think that we look back on the Garden of Eden, and often villainize Adam and Eve. They were given so much, and were denied only one thing. Why couldn’t they just say no, and walk away? We become very sure that, in their (lack of) shoes, we would have done just that.

But I wouldn’t have—not when I can’t even look away from these “beautiful” pear trees. And come to realize, we even have a couple in our yard (they came with the house). But I don’t know if I could bring myself to tear them down—at least, it isn’t at the top of my priority list. And when I do finally get around to it, it will not be cathartic or freeing or vindicating. Instead, I think it will be a bittersweet day, a sacrifice I’ve made at great personal cost.

We aren’t to hold this attitude toward sin. We aren’t supposed to let it maintain control over us. And we are supposed to be disgusted by it. Proverbs 8:13 says that “the fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.” And Romans 12:9 tells us to abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” There’s no halfway when it comes to sin. We must put our sin to death…not keep it around like a pet. Matthew 18:9 commands, “if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”

Is my love of pear trees my mother of all sins? Of course not. But it seems to me to be the most poignant illustration during spring time in Texas. May it serve as a reminder and conviction to us all.

A Companion of Fools

Proverbs 13:20

 “Walk with the wise and become wise,
for a companion of fools suffers harm.”

One of the most powerful scriptures I’ve ever encountered is Proverbs 13:20. I was first confronted by its profound power in a well-timed message delivered by Andy Stanley (to give credit where it is due, of course), in which he went into much greater detail than I will here. But I will say that I haven’t been the same since that day.

Of course, when most of us read this passage, we see it as an admonition not to be a companion of fools, lest we suffer harm. But there is another way to look at it. If we instead consider our own actions and decisions with discernment regarding whether they are wise or foolish, we can see how those actions and decisions might affect our loved ones—our companions.

You see, the thing about fools is that they often lack a keen sense of self-preservation. That means that they will disregard the potential negative consequences that they may face as a result of their behavior. I remember Andy Stanley saying that many times, fools will not change until they have suffered the full extent of the consequences of their sin. And worse yet, many of them wear that fact like a badge of honor or simply laugh it off: “Yeah, I guess I’ll change once I’ve hit rock bottom and lost everything.”

But wait. The verse above doesn’t say that a FOOL suffers harm. It says that a COMPANION of fools suffers harm. So who are those companions? Our spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, coworkers—even our pets—can all be our companions. And even fools will usually claim to love at least some of these. So all of a sudden, when the consequences of our decisions affect not only us, but our loved ones as well, maybe that offers a deeper motivation to choose the right path, the godly way.

I know that, for myself, when I’m tempted to do something foolish, and I first imagine the full extent of the consequences of that choice—the fallout that could await those I care about—it gives me immense power to resist that temptation and to turn away from sin. I hope all who read this will find that same power from this awesome proverb.

Many blessings to you all.