Probably close to 20 years ago, my sister and I taught the preschool class for VBS. The theme that year was Creation, so our room was decorated with all sorts of colorful, unique examples of plants and animals. Among those decorations was a basket of wax fruit, made to look remarkably life-like. The first morning, we noticed that one little girl had something red around her mouth that hadn't been there when she was dropped off. The quick investigation revealed one of those wax fruits--a bright red apple--held in her hand, hidden behind her back, with two neat rows of teeth marks in it. We explained that the apple was fake, even if it looked real, and that she couldn't really eat it. We moved the basket from the table to a place that was a bit more out of the way and didn't think anything else about it--until the next morning. Again, we noticed the red around her lips. We asked her if she had taken a bite of the fake apple again. She smiled and nodded and pulled the wax apple out from behind her back. The same thing happened the next morning... and the next... For whatever reason, that fake apple had caught her attention, and every morning she tried to take a bit.
That fake fruit looked beautiful. The apple was deep red with a shine. I had good weight to it--it felt solid. Sitting in a basket, it looked delicious. It promised a satisfying crunch followed by sweet juice that might drip down your chin if you're not careful. It was misleading...and ultimately empty.
How often in my life have I put out fake fruit? I don't mean as a decoration in baskets (I'm not a big decorator, though--I mostly just have books laying out on every surface that isn't covered with the stuff my kids have left out). How often do I replace true fruit:
with the kind of fake fruit that the world wants:
As a follower of Christ, I'm supposed to be known by my fruit. I'm called to live the kind of life that makes people see that I have something different, something that they want. I'm supposed to stop focusing on all the things this world says are important and instead focus on the things that matter for eternity. How often, though, do I offer this world just more of the same fake fruit they've already got? Instead of showing them fruit that will lead to a life that satisfies, how often do I just set out more of the same stuff that looks good, but doesn't actually offer anything of substance?
God, forgive me for setting out fake fruit. The fake stuff is definitely enticing, but it has no true substance. Help me to see that the fruit You want to see in my life doesn't have to be perfect. It will have blemishes, but that's okay. The more I love, the more my love will start to look like Yours. The more often I make it a point to focus on being joyful, the more true joy will start to overflow in my heart. The more often I bite my tongue and choose to answer out of a gentle spirit instead of a prideful one, the more gentleness will start to become my true nature. God, please help cultivate real fruit in my life so that I have something of substance to offer the world around me. People don't need more of the fake stuff.