Nurturing What Is Fake
Caelie Wilkes felt accomplished and proud. For two years, she successfully nurtured and cared for a succulent given to her by a friend. Her other house plants had shriveled and died, so she was feeling particularly gratified, considering she did not have a green thumb.
Things were different for this little succulent. Caelie carefully watered it when necessary. She read articles online on how to properly tend to succulents. And when friends tried to help the plant, she became protective like a mama bear. The leaves were firm, waxy, and green—all indicators of vibrant health. The succulent emitted joy as it sat in the kitchen window, illuminating the area.
One day, she determined it was time to repot the lucky plant. And it was then that she made a shattering discovery—the succulent she had religiously fostered was plastic! Beneath the surface was artificial sand and Styrofoam. USA Today covered this true story and Caelie remarked, “I put so much love into this plant! I washed it’s leaves. Tried my hardest to keep it looking its best, and it’s completely plastic!” She expended a considerable amount of time and strength to nurture what was fake all along.
Albeit an amusing story, what is quite tragic is that we can each do this in our spiritual lives. Like Caelie, we can spend time and effort in nurturing what is fake—tending to a hypocritical life that is as fake as plastic. You can give the impression that you are righteous while your heart is full of unrighteousness. God said to the Israelites, “[These] people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men” (Isaiah 29:13). Mere lip service while your heart is distant from the Lord is a plastic succulent in His sight.
Jesus sternly warns about nurturing a fake-succulent-kind-of-life: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). A day is coming when God will reveal the “roots” of all people, and it will become clear who is genuinely righteous and only righteous by appearance (2 Peter 3:10). Therefore, nurture authenticity instead of hypocrisy. Tend to and maintain an authentic, genuine life of righteousness.
You can begin by first trusting wholly in Christ as your Savior and Lord. If you have already done that, then strive to live righteously in order to be seen only by the Lord. Be more concerned with the inward condition of your heart than the outward appearance of your life. Be honest about your faults and shortcomings. Depend daily on God’s real grace to live a real righteous life. And don’t worry about watering the “plastic succulent.”
Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it will be posted for reading here.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).