As we continue thinking about my garden pests and the spiritual lessons they portray, we’ll look at the caterpillar in this blog.
When I first found the fuzzy caterpillar in the pole beans, I wasn't too alarmed. After all, those fuzzy ones grow into beautiful butterflies, don't they? After my first two pickings of beans yielded damaged and half-eaten string beans, I began to wonder. Of course, there were grasshoppers in the stand of too-closely-planted bean stalks, but they were merely turning the leaves into lace, I thought. Hmmmm.
When I found the second fuzzy caterpillar, I removed him. I don't know how many might have been left, but within days, the beans were much less munched-on.
Likewise, in life, we might think something is harmless—even cute—but it could turn out to be something damaging to us or to others. Jesus warns us about the "cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches" in the parable about the seeds falling among the thorns. We might care about a lot of things in this world—success, fame, wealth, a nice car, the latest Ipod or other electronic device, making the best-seller list, being popular in school, having a great job or house, or any other thing to which we might aspire. But if that desire consumes us, takes our focus away from what is important—the Lord, first, and the people whom He has placed in our lives (family, friends, co-workers)—then it is a caterpillar desire and will bring destruction.
The apostle Paul warns about the workers of Satan, who disguise themselves as "ministers of righteousness." They appear to be good and holy, but, in reality, they are unholy, evil, and deadly. These are things that will eat away at our spiritual fruit and mar our branches. They most likely will also cause destruction in the physical realm, to the body, to the mind, or to relationships with others.
I'm sure you can think of something in your life that has appeared good but turned out to be harmful. One such thing is self-righteousness, which appears to be good but denies that the power for right living is from Christ within, not from self. Another is the "sexual revolution," which turned lose a plethora of sexually transmitted diseases and social ills.
Another "caterpillar" is self-sufficiency. True, it is good to not depend upon others for the needs of life; but it is also true that, ultimately, we should depend upon God, who gives us all things—even our jobs and very breath. In his booklet, Tyranny of the Urgent, Charles E. Hummel says, "But the root of all sin is self-sufficiency—independence from the rule of God." Even pride is rooted in self-sufficiency. Yes, one ought to be personally responsible for his/her life, but personal responsibility should not attempt to remove God's sovereignty.
These cute, fuzzy "caterpillars" are subtly harmful. Their presence and identity is hidden. Their motive is disguised. But we must be on watch for them, lest they consume us. And when we eradicate them, with the Lord's help, we will find, "The floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil"—Joel 2: 24.
God's promise is to bless abundantly after the garden pests have come, caused us to turn our hearts to Him, and then gone again. Jesus stays with us through it all, helping us learn the lesson.
Next week – “The Restoration”
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