James 1:13-15 King James Version (KJV)
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain
During my training as a Master Gardner in my county, I participated in a seed exchange with fellow students. I had admired some Cleome in the garden of a friend and she graciously shared with me a small handful of seeds. I think I put them in a tissue, folded it around the seeds, and stuck it in the pocket of my jeans. Oh boy, I thought, free seeds!
Tossing them into some spaces around my heirloom roses, I envisioned their beauty coming to fruition the following spring. I was told these seeds would survive even the coldest of a Tennessee winter and not to worry about sowing them so late in the fall. A biennial, the Cleome sprouts from last year’s seeds, grows, and makes more seed to be germinated the following spring.
Recently, I meditated on the above verse from James as I wrestled late summer’s Cleome out of my heirloom rose bed. When the plants are fully grown, they bear thorny prickles like a rose. They take a handful of good soil with them when removed and I resent the holes left behind in my custom-mixed potting soil for my beautiful roses.
Cleome grows to four and five feet tall depriving my roses of needed sunlight. They are extremely prolific, and in my opinion, should be classified as a noxious or invasive species. What I admired from a distance, when brought into my own garden and tolerated for the past twenty years, has become a nuisance. I applied an extra application of pre-emergent weed killer this spring in hopes of deterring the Cleome from germinating—again.
As I write, I am looking through my studio window out into my garden and rose bed. It is clean as a whistle under another application of seed killer. My arms are slashed and pierced from pruning and my back is sore from the pulling, hauling, and digging required to remove the evil Cleome. But, the roses are pruned for the winter and bear the signs of lack of sunshine and stolen nutrition.
How much sin is like Cleome! It looks really good from a distance or with a brief encounter. Others can really sell sin because it looks so good for them, and they are always eager to pass out the seeds to get you on board. How innocently we tuck those seeds into our lives believing a delicate tissue can hold the power contained within them. How astonished we are to experience their long term re-occurrence, day after day and year after year, befuddled at the consequences of something that seemed so innocent at the time we tucked it into our pocket.
Many times I murmured under my breath, “What was I thinking? If only I had never sowed those first seeds!” It would not be an underestimation to calculate that I’ve grown a million seeds in a small bed over twenty years. Never did I imagine the extent of invasion from one small handful of tiny seeds. Isn’t sin much the same?
As a much more experienced gardener, I am very diligent in investigating those “free” seeds offered to me by well-meaning friends. I study to show myself approved before I make another mistake of that magnitude again.
I apply the seed theory to my spiritual life as well. As I’ve matured as a Christian, I’ve learned to seriously consider my choices beforehand to avoid having to reap the unexpected deluge for the remainder of my life. Not that I am immune to making stupid, foolish choices anymore, it’s just that I remember the Cleome and remember to think twice and act once. Guard your pockets!