Lemon balm

“Melissa Officinalis” is the pretty botanical name for a wonderfully-scented member of the mint family. It is common in many gardens where herbs are grown.

Among its legendary properties, it is used to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Some studies have suggested that Melissa possesses antibacterial qualities, particularly against listeria and staphylococcus. Other findings include evidence that it can relieve symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

In our garden, this lemony flavored herb is used to ward off the ever-present mosquitoes. It seems to be as effective as the commercial mosquito repellents, and it certainly is much more fragrant!

You will find that our garden has at least five very substantial patches of Lemon Balm strategically placed within easy reach of the gardeners.

But the truth is, nothing really works 100% against those greedy bloodsucking insects. I don’t even know for sure if there is enough scientific evidence to support my constant crushing of the pungent leaves to rub on my defenseless arms and legs.

But it sure does smell nice!

It has been said by many that the Christian life would be worth living even if the Bible was not true. Don’t believe this for a minute!

“If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19, NASB).

If we were to slather ourselves with Lemon Balm just because it smelled great, but it didn’t ward off the mosquitoes, not much is lost besides our time. I’m still trying to get a stain out of my favorite pink plaid shirt, but the investment of garden space and the risks are generally low.

If we truly live the life that Jesus calls us to live, but it only benefitted us here and now, it is not just a chlorophyll stain we will suffer. We are not called to a simple mental assent, without changing our lives drastically.

If our lives are comfortable and worry-free because of our faith, we might find that we have been going about it all wrong. Lip service to the King of Kings without paying true tribute to him makes us feel good, but does not touch our souls where it is needed.

Christianity is not simply a nice aspect to decorate our human existence, it must become our existence. Too many Christians see the benefits of what we don’t do — “I don’t do drugs, I don’t steal, I don’t get drunk…” but forget that we are also called to do certain things for Christ and his kingdom.

It takes time and effort to go beyond the “don’t do” phase and work for God. DO help out the less fortunate (James 1:27, Luke 3:11). DO reprove, rebuke, and exhort (1 Timothy 4:2). DO get involved with those who need us (Romans 12:15). DO spend time in God’s word to learn even more how to better serve him (Psalm 119-147, 148).

I have a friend who literally wears her Lemon Balm when she’s in the garden. She puts it in her shoes, pockets, and hat. She looks like an insect, with her stems of Melissa Officinalis sticking up from the sides of her head like antennae.

As we adorn ourselves with the herbs of the garden, we must truly “put on Christ” by not only the baptism of Galatians 3:27, but by becoming so much like Christ that our appearance, actions, and our whole lives are different.

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