(Proverbs 13:11 ESV) Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.
He called it a sucker, pinched it off of the vine, and threw it into the pile weeds.
A few years ago, while serving as the pastor at Shorts Creek Church of God, I decided to try my hand at gardening. I planned, planted, fertilized, and waited for the fruit of my labor. My elderly neighbors–Jack and Nellie Alexander–advised me in my effort to grow my vegetables.
One day, after I had pulled weeds and spread fertilizer throughout the garden, I noticed one of the plants had a long, healthy green vine growing from it. Exciting visions of fruit began to materialize in my mind as I admired the size and thickness of the vine.
About that time, Jack and Nellie came walking out to greet me and see what I was doing. I excitedly waved them over saying, “You’ve got to come see my plant! It’s a beaut!” Jack walked into the garden, smiled, and did the dastardly deed described earlier. “How could he call my plant a sucker?” I thought. “Why would he do that?” I was devastated!
He went on to explain that the rapid growth of the “sucker” vine would consume the nutrients needed for the smaller vines to produce fruit. He explained that just because it was bigger, thicker, and greener did not mean it was more valuable. It was not capable of producing fruit. It was just a “sucker.” He said, “The fruit-producing vine must be nurtured by plucking that sucker off!” Later that year, my garden produced a bumper crop of vegetables, and I learned a valuable life lesson.
Proverbs 13 explains that wealth gained hastily will dwindle. The reference to wealth is not just money. It includes anything that is meant to bring advancement to our lives. For instance, knowledge is wealth. Wisdom is wealth. Weight loss produces healthy bodies. But, knowledge and wisdom accumulate over a lifetime of learning. Weight loss is always more beneficial when it is accomplished through lifestyle changes that produce steady, long lasting results. In other words, “whoever gathers little by little will increase it.”
I’ve learned that some very impressive looking things add no value to my life. They are beautiful and they make me feel good, but they bring a false sense of accomplishment. Over the long haul, they suck the life right out of me. Social media can do that to me. Politics wear me out. Winning arguments make me arrogant and self-absorbed.
I’m learning to appreciate the little things… the consistent things. I’ve discovered that joy and contentment take time to “build up.” Dipping a wick in wax–little by little, time after time– ultimately produces a beautiful candle.
So, do what I did when I started gardening. Plan, plant, fertilize…and wait. But, do it wisely. And when you observe something growing exponentially in an impressive but unhealthy way… Pluck that sucker off! The fruit will come from the small, healthy, little-by-little things of life.
PRAYER: Father, help me to be patient as you produce Your fruit in me. Help me to be content with the small steps that ultimately take me to the place You have reserved for me. Amen.