We were out for a walk when
we saw it!
It was perfect -- just a little
too perfect. Beautiful colors, beautiful shape -- a spring
flower that from a distance appeared real.
But up close…it felt hard,
impersonal, fashioned through a mold -- lifeless.
My children ran to it, but
when they picked it up, a look of disappointment glimmered
through their eyes.
"Oh…it isn't real…"
They wandered away as the plastic
flower dropped to the ground. The brilliant colors and shape
no longer mattered. Inside it wasn't real. It was only meaningless,
worthless, without purpose.
This week, I've been thinking
a lot about fakes. Sometimes what appears to be beautiful,
productive, and full of life can in reality be full of emptiness
-- a huge disappointment -- something of little or no value.
…empty words…empty encouragement…empty
Jesus experienced this same
disappointment. Walking along on a hot and dusty day, He
was hungry and tired. Ahead of Him, next to the road, was
a beautiful, leafy fig tree -- green, full of life, its
branches reaching out and up to the world around it.
But when He got there, it had
This didn't come as a surprise
to the Savior. He knew what lay beneath the beauty of the
greenery. But He looked anyway -- He looked for the fruit
that would bring nourishment to the world.
He looked…because love always
He looked for the fulfilling
of the purpose for which it was created. He looked for the
And when it wasn't there, He
cursed the tree.
Why? Because He was angry?
He was weak and grumpy with hunger? Because things didn't
go His way?
No. Because it was a fake.
It wasn't as it appeared. The life-like tree was not life-giving.
It wasn't alive, as God intended.
Did Jesus really care about
Not too much. But what about
life-giving believers? Does Jesus care about them?
Marvin was a life-giving believer…once.
At least some say he was. But to be honest, no one really
remembers back that far.
Marvin has attended the same
church for many years. As a child, perhaps Marvin chose
Jesus as Lord. But that was long ago. Age, life experiences,
and stale Christianity have long ago dulled His relationship
with Christ. Senseless tradition and rules have stolen His
joy. Power has taken his humility.
Now, though Marvin never misses
a Sunday in church, no one is quite sure why he's there.
His countenance is angry. He walks the halls of the church,
looking for something to complain about. You'd better agree
with everything Marvin believes in -- and you'd better abide
by his rules -- or you're in trouble…
Never would it cross Marvin's
mind to pray…or worship. His words are harsh and critical.
His eyes are sad. His heart is empty. It appears that all
is meaningless to Marvin -- the sermons don't even make
much sense to him anymore.
Marvin wears the dying leaves
of past fruit. There are no new buds growing in his life.
His fruit is dry and lifeless on the vine.
Perhaps Marvin is a fake. Or perhaps Marvin has forgotten
what it means to be real.
Ellen isn't a fake. She's real
When you're going through a
trial, Ellen just seems to know. She sees you walk in the
door on Sunday morning and her discerning spirit can immediately
tell by your countenance when something is wrong. Or when
you are hurting…she just has that gift, you know?
Whether you tell Ellen your
problem or not, she will not leave your side. She stays
with you…can't you see her? She is up early in the morning,
praying for you. She sends you an encouragement card. She
calls you when you're absent. She's there, and she cares.
Ellen is not a gossiper! She
refuses to participate in the latest news. Some of the women
in the church despise Ellen! You see, she is famous for
bowing her head and praying out loud, right in the midst
of a group of whispering women:
Dear Father, bless this
sweet sister being talked about.
Oh, precious Lord, how you must love her! After all, You
sent Your Son to die for her.
She is precious to You!
Then, with one eye open, she
And help me to remember,
Father, that my words are a sweet sacrifice
to Your holy Name.
And then she walks away.
Ellen is definitely a life-giver;
she's no fake! She loves to pray. She loves to worship.
She loves you.
Maybe you've seen Margaret
at the church recently? She is such a joy -- a brand new
Christian. She loves to hear about Jesus. She loves her
new Bible. She loves to go to church. She can't wait to
be around her new-found family of God.
But something just doesn't
seem quite right to Margaret. Something is bothering her,
but she can't quite grasp it. She sees Marvin's countenance
and his prideful, unbending stature, and she wonders. Is
this Christianity? But yet Margaret feels so much joy
on the inside! Every part of her is bursting to learn...to
know truth. Life-giving fruit is budding all over Margaret.
She's just so grateful to Christ. She had been dry and thirsty
for so long…
Marvin is dry and thirsty now.
Truth be known, Margaret is
a little afraid of Marvin. After all, where is his peace?
His loving heart? She watches as he scorns those he despises.
Margaret thinks that perhaps she just doesn't know enough
yet to know how to act as a Christian? Maybe someday she'll
be a Marvin…? She hopes not. Margaret just doesn't quite
Ellen understands, though.
She grieves for Marvin in her heart. Ellen is faithfully
praying for Marvin, even though she knows that Marvin despises
Hard, impersonal, lifeless.
Why must there be any fakes?
Life with Jesus is joyful!
Life-giving! New…not legalistic, or harsh, or critical.
Jesus Himself grieves for Marvin, as He pushes aside the
leaves of Marvin's heart and finds no fruit.
Poor Marvin. He is a fake.
What about you…are you a fake? Is there hope for a fake?
Love always hopes.
is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not
boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it
is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
I Corinthians 13
not love does not know God, because God is love.
I John 4:8
Copyright © 2011. Faith Matters by Lygia Lovelace.
All rights reserved. KenLovelaceMinistries.com