Beware the Strangler Fig!

Once you hear the fascinating story of the strangler fig, you will shiver every time you see one.  The strangler fig is a large canopy tree that begins its life in an unusual way.  The seed is deposited by bird droppings on a branch of another tree.  As the seed grows, it stretches out in both directions, down toward the ground so it can build a root system, and up toward the sky so it can reach the sunlight through the jungle growth.  The strangler fig grows aggressively, and soon its roots choke off the nutrients of the host tree, while its leaves prevent the host tree from getting sunlight.  Before long, nothing is left of the host but a hollow center.  The common name for this dark jungle dweller is the banyan tree, which sounds a lot more benign than calling it what it is.  And you know where I’m going with this.  Seeds are deposited on us all the time.  Unlike the host tree of the strangler fig, we have a choice as to whether or not the little seeds grow and take over.

The seed of unpleasantness- You’ve had it dropped on you.  No matter how positive you try to be, or how much good you try to do, someone will find fault.  Someone will criticize or say something thoughtless.  You can brush it off, or you can feed it until it you find yourself resenting others.  Common name:  I’mAVictim.  Real name:  Bitterness

The seed of sensuality- It’s everywhere.  Ladies, it’s not just a problem for guys who stare at a computer all day.  It’s in TV shows like Desperate You-Name-It or The Bachelor or Dancing with the Stars.  It’s in magazines.  It’s graphically portrayed in novels.  It can even be found on Pinterest.  It can smother out all sense of purity and wholesomeness.  Common name:  Entertainment.  Real name:  Pornography.

The seed of whispering- Will you join in the conversation?  It doesn’t take much to become a participant, to look forward to the chatter, to contribute what you know.  Common name:  Confiding.  Real name:  Gossip.

The seed of chemistry- A glance here, a little flirtation there, or an exchange of emails or texts that makes your heart flutter and your cheeks hot…there’s nothing harmless about it.  It has an aggressive growth rate.  It damages relationships, and soon you might find yourself guilty of the one thing you thought you’d never do.  Common name:  Affair. Real name:  Adultery.

No matter what we’re exposed to, faced with, or tempted by, we have the choice to nip it in the bud (ha!) from the very beginning (1 Cor. 10:13), or we can let it grow and smother out the Light until nothing is left but a hollow shell of who we’re supposed to be.  “When desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15).

Prayer for Today:  May I always be aware of any sin trying to take root in my heart.

Our group under a strangler fig at an Angkor temple in Cambodia

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