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Fruity Tomatoes
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I planted tomatoes last month. Well—at least—I thought I planted tomatoes. I went to the nursery and found the “Tomato” sign and chose the colors of pots that corresponded with the varieties I wanted and brought them home and put them in the soil.

The problem is that now I’m pretty sure they aren’t tomatoes. As they’ve grown, the leaves just don’t seem right. They are a strange shape and they don’t have that distinctive tomato smell. Also, only two of them have flowered, and both of those plants are ones that have gotten more and more purple as they’ve matured. Hmm.

I’m pretty sure I’ve got a couple of eggplants, a couple of peppers and an unknown species of vegetable in my garden. I just don’t understand! They were under the tomato sign and in the right colored pots. How could they be something else?

Jesus uses illustrations about gardening many times in the Gospels. He refers to fruiting trees and plants more than five times in Matthew alone. He says, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit…. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (Matthew 7:15-20).

Nice Outward Appearance

Jesus wants us to learn to see people for what they are at the heart level. He doesn’t want us to be fooled by a nice outward appearance—pretty leaves and blossoms, nice clothes, flattering words—if what they are followed by are disingenuous acts, false testimony or maybe even an eggplant! But I also think He’s hoping we won’t too quickly judge a book by its cover. That maybe we should learn to overlook the appearance initially, because there just might be people out there with hidden fruit that we might miss out on if we dismiss them too quickly.

So to be sure, should I wait until my supposed tomato plants fruit? Maybe so. Maybe they deserve the chance to prove me wrong. But to hedge my bet, I’m still going to be researching eggplant recipes.

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By Joelle Yamada. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture take from the THE NEW LIVING TRANSLATION © 1996. 

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