I overheard a hilarious story this week about a young woman who bought her first houseplant.

The woman, having no prior experience caring for houseplants, decided to purchase a small succulent in hopes this would be the easiest kind of plant to keep alive.

She faithfully watered her little plant every day and to her great satisfaction, the plant thrived! It always sat perfectly on her windowsill, robust, green and un-wilting.

Then, one fateful day, the woman accidentally knocked her precious plant off of the windowsill in her haste and it went crashing to the ground, the small pot shattering to pieces...

To her horror, she discovered the “plant” which lay all over the ground was nothing more than an imitation succulent…a fake, rubbery houseplant imposter.

She had just spent weeks of her life catering to an illusion.

Sometimes, we do the same thing when it comes to our faith.

We live in a world that glorifies appearances. The way we present ourselves to the world, what people think about us, who people think we are matters deeply in our social economy and it invites us to prance right into the trap of watering fakery.  

It’s easier to water the appearance of a faithful and virtuous life than it is to water true virtue and faithfulness.

We must ask ourselves the honest question; is it more important to me to appear righteous, or actually be righteous? Sometimes those two will go hand-in-hand, but other times we must release appearances to take hold of the real living thing.

Do I spend a lot of time talking about how to love my neighbor, or actually doing something to love my neighbor this week?

Do I spend a lot of time pondering with friends how to be more generous, or giving more in secret?

Do I tend to over-exaggerate my good works in public, or do I speak plainly and honestly about how I’m taking small steps to trust God?  

Do I prefer sharing posts that “humble brag” about my kids or my accomplishments or praying how I can show up more like Christ daily within the four walls of my home.  

Jesus makes it clear which one he cares about. In fact, he has some harsh words for the religious pretends, and self-promoters of his day.  

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me…”
Matthew 15:8

“For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.” Romans 10:3

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” Romans 12:9

Like caring for a real plant, a life of real faith is sometimes messy and nuanced. It requires creativity, initiative and perseverance. But it’s always better than the imitation, because only the real thing yields the beauty, the sweetness, and the satisfaction we crave.   

What will you water today?


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