The inmost places
We eat a lot of apples in my house. They are a quick treat, portable, and yummy. My youngest daughter particularly enjoys Golden Delicious apples thanks to her discovery that they were originally discovered in our home state. As for me, as long as they are crispy, crunchy and juicy - I'm good.
Because we eat so many of them I am very particular about picking them out at the store. I look for apples that are well shaped. I check for signs of bruising, I squeeze to ensure they are firm and not mushy. And then I bring home what appears to be the perfect selection of apples. But sometimes, I cut into one and discover this:
|image from www.reddit.com|
What I had thought was going to be a sweet treat was actually rotting from the inside out. I'll be honest, I don't really know what causes this in fruit. But I do know that fruit isn't the only thing that can appear beautiful on the outside and yet be full of decay on the inside. Mark 7:21-23 tells us that the things that are evil - pride, foolishness, covetousness, deceit etc - come from within us. More often than not we don't wear a big sign that announces these things about ourselves. Instead we bury those things deep within us and try to look beautiful and pure on the outside. Sometimes we hide the decay in ourselves so well that even we don't even realize it is there.
But God isn't looking at the outside, rather He is searching our heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) And sometimes He has to cut open the apple to reveal the decay inside. It isn't a pleasant process. We often call them trials or hard times. Now don't think I am saying ALL trials are a result of decay in our lives, but I am saying that we need to examine ourselves to see if that might be the cause. Just because you cut an apple doesn't mean it is rotting inside. :)
So the next time things get rough, and if you are following Jesus they WILL get rough, (read our post earlier this week for that lesson!) take a few moments in prayer and ask God if perhaps this is an attempt to reveal an aspect of yourself that isn't pleasing to God, a part of yourself that you may not have even realized was there. Trials have a habit of bringing out the worst in us, actions that we may never have taken or thought otherwise. Then, if God has revealed this is the case, start working to excise those decayed parts. But you can't stop with that. An empty spot begs to be filled.
Fill those parts of yourself with God. I'll leave you with the same advice Paul gave the Philippians, "brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." (Philippians 4:8) For when we fill ourselves with these things, we crowd out the decay.