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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Looks can be deceiving

33"If you grow a healthy tree, you'll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you'll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree."
(Matthew 12:33)

Most of us understand that a tree of one type cannot produce the fruit of another.  There has been some horticultural work done to "graft" in one type of branch from the fruit tree of one kind into the already growing fruit tree of another kind.  This is tricky business.  If the branch "grafted-in" is of a sour fruit, such as lemon, it can affect the taste of the orange tree it has been attached to.  This does not change the original "character" of the orange tree - it is still an orange tree with a "grafted" branch from the lemon tree.  

My grandson likes to explore my yard because he says I have "interesting" bugs. I am not sure that is a compliment!  But he is right!  We have found huge, black palo verde beetles that hiss at you, gigantic green grasshoppers, praying mantis, and simple potato bugs.  The truth is, I probably don't know what is in my yard as I don't make it a habit to look for these "critters" until he is around!  Yet there have been occasions when I observe my plants have been "eaten" by something.  When this occurs, I look deeper to see if I can isolate the "critter" doing the destructive work.

As hard as I may look sometimes, I often don't find the "culprit" for the damage.  It is not apparent to me - maybe because the little critter flies in and then flies out when it is finished with its meal!  On occasion, I am rewarded for my searching and I find the hungry critter at rest under a leaf, sleeping off its recent meal!  Either way, I have a damaged bush!  The evidence of the effect of the critter having been present is there - I just may not realize what it is that has done the damage.

The Arizona desert is an excellent place to grow citrus.  There are trees that often line the streets of neighborhoods with lush green foliage and beautifully orange fruit in season.  The blooms waft a terrific fragrance in the springtime, and bees are in heaven when these trees are in full bloom.  I have experienced first-hand that not all that fruit is sweet.  

These trees are ornamental - they bear fruit, but it is for the appearance, not for the enjoyment.  The ornamental orange is bitter - even though it looks exactly like the other oranges that grow in the well-kept orchards of the citrus farms.  It may appear to be just like the real thing, but looks are deceiving.  Bite into the fruit of that tree and your teeth will be set on edge!  

The fact is that the fruit tells you a great deal about the tree.  In fact, the beauty and lushness of my bushes tells me a lot about the bush, as well.  The "fruit" of the leaves has made a great shelter for many a "bad" bug!  The same can be true in our lives - we often give shelter, providing just the right amount of nourishment to things that bring destruction into our lives.  When we do, we are not left without the tell-tale signs of that compromise.  

We can't judge a book by its cover, but we can judge it by its fruit.  We open the pages, explore its content, and find out if it is good or bad.  We cannot look upon a tree and say its fruit is good - the fruit may be bitter, souring all who consume it.  We cannot always readily see what it is that is acting to destroy our growth - but if we examine long enough, with watchfulness, we will usually find the culprit.