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Thursday, September 24, 2015

A plucked apple...

Standing up to anything is kind of hard - especially when it is bigger than you are, stronger, or just plain annoying.  You might want to muster the internal strength to just counteract that object's strength, towering presence, or plaguing niggling, but you find it almost impossible to do so each and every time.  Why?  We are inherently weak and will succumb to the pressure over time if we are only willing to rely upon our own strength, might, or ability to overcome whatever that pressure is.  Temptation is a form of pressure - sometimes from within our own selves, while at others from some outside source, but pulling at something within us nonetheless.  Temptation doesn't have any "pull" if we don't first have some kind of weakness within us which allows that outward pressure to tug at something inside of each of us.  This is important for us to realize, because if we can see this association, it is the first step of breaking free of the "pull".  Here is something else I have learned over the years - it is impossible to reattach an apple to a tree once it has been plucked from the branch!  

Even if you think you can stand up to temptation, be careful not to fall. You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to escape from your temptations. (I Corinthians 10:12-13 CEV)

We might think we can toy with temptation a little, like when we twist an apple on a branch just a little.  If that apple was ready to leave the branch, getting close to the time it was ready to be called "ripe", that subtle twisting would be all it took for that apple to let go and now be in your hands.  The more we play with sin, the more easily it will "drop into our hands".  We have no power to put it back on the branch - we simply are left "dealing with it" because it is now ours!

There are times when we are tempted by the appearance of something - drawn in by our eyes and the "promise" of something wonderful.  A green apple on the branch isn't very enticing to us at first, but given a little time, it will begin to turn to the lush red color.  When it does, we are drawn by the color - enticed by the promise of something wonderful.  Sin is that way in our lives - it doesn't get us drawn in when we first notice it is present - just like we didn't pay much attention to the green apple on the branch.  Yet, when we have considered it long enough, going back to it time and time again to "examine it", we are drawn in by the promise of something wonderful because of what "appears" to be that way.

The truth is often realized way too late, though.  The red apple which promised rich and luscious sweetness may still be very bitter on the inside!  We might have been duped by the appearance, but we cannot be fooled by the bitter taste it leaves in our mouths.  Sin isn't much different - it might appear one way, but when finally experienced fully, it leaves nothing but bitterness for the one who partook.  As with the appearance of something wonderful, the pull of temptation is also made easier because of our other senses which get us emotionally "connected" with the thing which tempts us so easily.

The apple tree provides shade with a lush cover of leaves and the rippling peacefulness of the breeze gently flowing through the orchard.  The scent of the apples ripening gives off an aroma of sweetness, enticing us in a little closer.  The coolness of the fruit as we run our fingers over the surface of the apple, experiencing the beauty of the outer peel of the fruit with our touch makes us "want" to experience the perceived "delight" of what is on the inside of that apple.  The low hanging fruit on some of the branches make it even easier and more enticing to experience the apple. Yet, we can never forget this - we are drawn in by our eyes, ears, sense of touch, etc.  The apple can never be put back - once it is plucked, we are left to deal with it!

The shade of the tree provides cover - something we long for if we are about to sin.  We often get pulled into a place of what we believe to be "cover" when it comes to succumbing to temptation - so if we begin to recognize when we are being drawn into places of "cover", we might actually avoid being in the place where the "fruit" is available to us!  Plucked fruit is either eaten or discarded - plain and simple.  I have heard it said man can observe the number of seeds in an apple, but only God can know the number of apples in a seed. I think this may give us a little insight into why we need to rely upon the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives when it comes to avoiding the "apple"!  We might think there is little harm in plucking the fruit now and again, but God knows the potential in the seed.  Just sayin!