So, there’s a farmer/gardner/chilli developer who has developed the UK’s hottest chilli. I watched with increasing incredulity the report on BBC Breakfast, asking myself throughout “Why, why would someone do this?” The reporter said more than once that if she touched the chilli with an ungloved hand, that she would suffer burns to her hand and potentially her face as well. This is a fruit grown intentionally that cannot be eaten. The very nature of fruit is that it is designed to be eaten – so that the seeds then get disseminated and the parent plant lives on. Even the most ardent “hot Chilli” enthusiast would agree that to eat food that will not just metaphorically burn is foolish.
The spiffy graphics shown to us showed how many million scovilles hot the newly developed Chilli was – in other words, how much harm this fruit could actually do. The farmer then proudly told us how this harm was caused; how such a damaging fruit could exist. It was by abusing it. “It’s 50% down to genetics, but the rest is by distressing the plant. It’s a natural defence mechanism to make the fruit more harmful.” He outlined how he shouted (I know… *rolls eyes*) at the plants, but also denied them water and ripped bits off them “to make them “think” they were being preyed upon”.
Now, plants have no souls, or free will on conscience; three gifts each one of us does have. But even with these gifts, how many who have harmed others with their toxic, burning fruits have truly chosen the path of destruction. I’m all for taking personal responsibility and find it reprehensible when killers place blame on their upbringing and previous treatment for their subsequent treatment of others….. And yet, it does seem I’m softening as I continue my walk with Jesus (or rather “catching” some of His Grace perhaps?) Because I’m finding that what I find more reprehensible than those who don’t take responsibility for their actions are the ones who purposely set out to make another person into a living weapon. My attention is beginning to turn more and more to these people; those who, like this Chilli farmer, prey on others not simply out of their own pain, but to magnify pain, harm and hurt by producing toxic fruit in another human.
As members of this global community, we are not only to be known by our own fruit but the fruit we encourage in others – the fruit we choose to intentionally develop in others. Let us learn from this farmer and choose to cultivate sweet fruit in the lives of those around us. Instead of burning hot and toxic chillies, let’s choose sweet Strawberries, refreshing Apples, energy giving Bananas. Let us tend those around us not by withholding water or shouting or tearing but with comfort, with plenty and by building up.
Maybe this is what Jesus means when he says the seed that falls on good ground will return tenfold, for those who let His gospel truly speak to their hearts produce fruit not only once for themselves, but over and again through everyone whose lives they touch – Let your goodness be contagious!