Galatians 5:22-23“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law”

Every one of us has a figurative garden, and whether we know it or not, we are always growing something. As Christians we ought to be nurturing the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, etc. If we are not careful, we will plant something that looks harmless, but overtime can become a problem in our life.

A perfect example of what I’m talking about is the Bradford pear tree. The church I work at has one in the landscape, and it’s beautiful. The tree is full of beautiful white blossoms in the spring. Overall it’s an aesthetically pleasing tree, but it has a flaw – the blossoms give off a strong fishy smell.

I did some research on the Bradford pear. The Washington Post has a great article on the history of the Bradford Pear, and I learned that it came to America from China. Scientists did what they thought were extensive trials on the tree to see if there were any problems that would occur from planting it. They determined that it was the perfect tree. The tree grew in literally any kind of soil – dry, wet, nutrient deficient or rich soil. It is tall, full of blooms in the spring, small fruit in the summer, and has pretty foliage in the fall. So every landscaper, contractor, and homeowner wanted these trees in their landscape. Streets were lined with them, nurseries were always out of stock, and people couldn’t seem to get enough of these trees in the 1960s.

By the 1990s, the Bradford pears invasive tendencies were well known. It grew from a pretty tree with a smooth trunk and nicely spread branches to a spiky trunk with tight branches that easily split. They found that the small berry like fruit was easily carried away by birds and because the tree grew in virtually any type of soil, lots of unwanted trees started growing and easily taking over fields and valleys. Now these valleys and fields have to be mowed regularly to get rid of the sprouting trees so they don’t choke out the other plants.

There are things that we are planting in our life that we may think is the fine, good, perfect even, but we need to think about what it will grow into.

What kind of modesty standards are you planting? Sure that at-your-knee length skirt may look cute or those slim cut pants may look sharp, but what will that standard grow into? If you are willing to plant the standard of borderline now, it WILL grow into the standard of right-above-the-knee skirts to fingertip-length skirts and that borderline shirt WILL grow into low-cut and tight tops. Men, those slim cut pants WILL grow into skinny pants. All immodesty! What kind of music standards are you planting? Maybe you listen to a good Christian song – just sung by someone who uses drums in the background or slides a little bit more. “It’s just a little bit, and it’s a good song!” you’ll say. It could even be a hymn! When you do that, you are planting a borderline music standard. That one song will turn into more songs – “they’re hymns” you say– then it grows to the other songs those people sing – “They’re singing about Jesus still” – until they’re no longer singing about Jesus and it’s something the world also listens to.

Borderline standards become invasive standards, and almost impossible to get rid of! If you’re a teen reading this, be careful about what you plant now. Ask God to help you have wisdom about what you are planting. Think ahead of what the standards you planting today will grow into. If you are an adult and have a teen or work with teens, remember “What one generation does in moderation, the next does it in excess.” Be aware that what you let slide, your teens will take as the normal standard. Help them to know what to plant in their gardens. You have seen what borderline standards grow into, they haven’t. Help them to plant what is right.

Katlyn Fisher

Secretary for Clays Mill Baptist Church

Clays Mill