On Fighting Worldiness and Fruit Flies

October 1, 2012 · 4 comments

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by Melissa McDonald

My husband Eric came home with a sack of beautiful, green pears from the neighbor’s tree. I couldn’t wait for them to ripen.

But that was my first mistake: I let them ripen right in the middle of my kitchen. It happened over a month ago. Every last pear has been eaten.

The fruit flies remain. Swarms of them.

For weeks I diligently put food away as soon as we were finished with it. I kept our tomatoes in the refrigerator. I finished half eaten bananas. And we contrived a little fruit fly trap: a glass with a bit of orange juice covered with plastic wrap and a few holes poked in it. The fruit flies could crawl in but few could get out.

At first it seemed like the nasty little flies increased anyway, but eventually I noticed there weren’t so many of them. And finally none at all.

Then came my second mistake: I thought we were in the clear.

I was exhausted. I went to bed with mashed potatoes and tomato remains stuck on our plates. This morning our little friends are back. Swarms of them.

And as I began the long battle of rinsing dishes and scrubbing counters I reflected on how my battle with the little pests is like my battle with loving the world.

The sack of pears entering my kitchen isn’t so different from the new pair of jeans I’d like to buy.

I let the bag of fruit sit on my counter. The pears are so beautiful. They seem so harmless. There’s nothing wrong with a new pair of jeans.

But as the thought sits in the back of my mind, my love for the world multiplies. I suddenly need those jeans. I will feel so much better about myself if I have them. They will make me a better wife. They will make me happy.

Before I know it, my heart is filled with swarms and swarms of fruit flies, of little lusts for the world. My heart is taken over by them. And eventually, by God’s grace, I find it disgusting. It’s disgusting to dethrone the living God by looking for joy from a pair of jeans.

And so I begin the long, tedious work killing my worldliness. I look for everything fruit flies can live on. I throw away the magazine. I don’t click on the ad. I avoid the mall.

It’s not that those things are bad. It’s that I know what happens to my heart when I leave temptation on the counter.

While I’m scrubbing the counters I set my trap. I saturate my mind with Scripture to take the little lusts captive. I return to some of the most worn pages of my Bible:

“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word” (Psalm 119:36-37).

The refrain of the hymn echoes in my mind, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

“Let me see Jesus.” I ask as I turn to Colossians 1:15-20:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

It doesn’t all sink in at first. I read again. I strain the eyes of my heart to see Jesus.

After awhile the lie that this world will make me happy isn’t quite so convincing.


ABOUT THE WRITER
Melissa McDonald and her husband Eric serve international students at The University of Iowa. Melissa is passionate about discipling women, starting with their two daughters and extending to the women she knows from around the world. Melissa blogs at Radiant Ministries Today and has written the Bible study guide: To Live Valiantly: A study on the Proverbs 31 Woman.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Britney October 1, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Melissa, love your perspective on the fruit flies. We have an ongoing battle with these annoying little critters every late summer/fall, so I completely identify with you! Thanks for turning an annoying battle with critters into a reflection on our battle with sin and the person of Jesus. I won’t look at our fruit flies the same anymore!

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2 Tim October 2, 2012 at 12:28 am

I laughed when I got to this line, Melissa: “They will make me a better wife. They will make me happy.” I’ve been fooled by temptation that way too. Or perhaps I’ve been the one fooling myself.

That Helen Lemmel hymn is a wonderful reminder of Hebrews 12:1-2, isn’t it? “… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” More time focusing on him means less time focusing on anything else.

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3 Kendra October 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm

This will make for an excellent family devotional!

I think an appropriate accountability phrase for helping battle the issue of worldliness might be “are there fruit flies in your house?”! So the next time I get discouraged that we still haven’t started on the bathroom remodeling project, my husband can ask “are there…” or my son ogles over the vehicles in the auto trader magazine…

We could even take it one step further by memorizing Psalm 119:36-37, using it as a reply to the above mentioned question. Further keeping us grounded and focused on the Author and Perfecter of our faith!

Thanks for the inspiration, Melissa!!!

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