Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (NIV)
When we wintered in the state of Florida, we usually arrived just as the second crop of tomatoes was being staked. The plants had reached about a foot-and-a-half in height. Later, I used to go into the fields when the crop was ready to be picked. The grossly underpaid migrant workers would come in with trucks loaded with large containers. The pickers, armed with plastic pails, would pick the hard, green tomatoes, fill the pails, and dump them into the containers, ready to be packed and shipped to their destination.
The tomatoes are picked green in order to prevent them from bruising and becoming spoiled. Then, while still in storage, carbon dioxide gas is used to ripen the tomatoes instantly. This gas does nothing to harm the fruit, but, to my mind, there is nothing like vine-ripened tomatoes.
Picking tomatoes green is a necessity for shipping, but tomatoes that take time to ripen taste better, and, to me, it is worth the time waiting for them to mature naturally.
And so it is with us. From the time we receive Christ, God chooses to let us grow gradually to maturity. It is a slow and sometimes painstaking process, but in the end, it is all worthwhile.
At the time of our salvation, we may conclude that we are instant Christians. In one sense we are: we have a wonderful new relationship with God. But we are also much like those tomato plants that had just been staked. It is only the beginning of a long process that takes a lifetime of growing, developing, and maturing to be more like Christ.
Prayer: Dear Lord, enable us to be patient during the time that it takes us to mature. Like the fruit that we are in Your vineyard, may we ripen ever so slowly to be more like Christ, in Whose name we pray. Amen.