About a month before Christmas, in appreciation for my care of his house, my landlord surprised me with a beautiful Poinsettia (I am choosing to capitalize Poinsettia and give a little honor to Mr. John Poinsett, the first US minister to Mexico who introduced the flower to the US in 1820’s). Its many large blossoms were a luscious red, and judging from the foil and velvet wrapping, I knew this was a “florist investment.” In order to preserve it through the entire holiday season, I carefully tested the soil (not scientifically but with my non-green thumb) and watered my living treasure. Guests, enamored with its beauty would say things like, What a gorgeous Poinsettia! and, I’ve never seen a more healthy and beautiful plant! Needless to say, I was delighted by their kind and positive comments. My winter gardening ritual continued through January, and the Poinsettia’s beauty remained under my watchful eye.
However, one evening in February, preparing to quench its thirst yet again and growing weary of my new job as a plant-sitter, I secretly wished it would die. There. I said it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind plants, I just don’t enjoy caring for them. But regardless of my growing resentful attitude (mixed with a little guilt), I felt a gentle tug on my heartstrings to reach in to feel of its leaves, although still hoping they would fall off in my hands (remember, it was mid-February and Poinsettias aren’t supposed to last that long). It was at that moment I realized something extraordinary. And not 10 seconds after that realization, I found myself doubled over in laughter. For nearly 3 months I had been watering a silk plant! True story.
It’s easy in this life to get involved in scads of activities, few that you actually enjoy, and many that are just plain agonizing. But you get involved anyway (before you read the fine print) because it’s just what Christ-followers do. Yes, you get involved, and you perform all of the activities with the dedication, commitment, and gusto that, in comparison, would make Mother Theresa look like a selfish couch potato. Perhaps prior to taking on an assignment and risk becoming resentful and as bitter as the pith of an orange rind, there are a couple of questions you may want to ask yourself before you give your life away: “Is what I am about to do meaningful? Will a change for good be brought about by what I do or say? Will I become a better person as a result of this activity? Will this activity encourage someone or help him or her to grow in their faith in Christ? Mind you, I never applied for the plant-sitter job, nevertheless, I was committed. But even with all my diligence and best efforts, that Poinsettia did not grow one iota, although the plant itself brought sunshine and joy into my home (until mid-February). In fact, the best thing about receiving and caring for that fake plant was the good laugh that it brought to me, and hopefully to you too.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly beloved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity
You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven
(Matthew 5:14, 16).
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification