Isolate the cause

Green peppers are ripe in the garden! Oh, the possibilities — pepper pizza, fajitas, stuffed peppers, and any number of dishes with these tasty green fruits as a flavoring.

I brought in the first two bell peppers from the garden yesterday. One was perfect! The other was a terrible disappointment, after cutting into it and finding brown spots on the inside. I needed to know how to prevent the rest of my pepper crop from succumbing to such an unappetizing problem.

Donning my proverbial doctor’s lab coat and stethoscope, I proceeded to diagnose the problem as best I could. (Actually, no lab coats or stethoscopes are needed here, only a laptop and Google.)

The first step in any problem is to isolate the cause. Was it a disease? Two peppers from the same plant were entirely different. A bug? I didn’t see any bugs. Growing conditions? One source said it could be a result of a cold snap while the fruit was setting, but the two peppers seemed to be the same size.

The major suspect now is the European Corn Borer. This pest has a habit of entering and hiding up by the calyx, or wide part of the stem where it meets the fruit. Since the fruit was thrown into the trash, I won’t know. At least, not until next time!

Armed with this new information, if the same thing happens again, I will be able to test this theory…after putting on some latex gloves. I am too squeamish to touch worms!

In the meantime, I may be adding soil amendments to add calcium, just in case.

Similarly, when there is a spiritual problem, we need to isolate the cause.

For instance, a flippant attitude toward God’s word could be caused by a lack of belief in it. People who think they are free to ignore the Bible often have no true faith in it. To cure the problem, quoting the very scriptures they doubt will not be as effective as fortifying their faith with Christian evidences.

We also might look at the causes of immorality in the world today. Could it be that many folks have not heard that God is more than a jolly old grandfather who could never be angry at his people?

If they have never heard about the angels reverently covering their faces and crying “Holy, holy, holy,” they may envision them skipping around singing “Grace, grace, grace!” (Read Isaiah 6 for the throne scene.)

So, curing the disease of sin may take a lot of thoughtfulness and care, just like curing the problem with my peppers. One friend of mine has had a hard time getting plugged back into church, and said so on social media. One of his friends proceeded to blast him with threats of God’s judgment.

Needless to say, it didn’t help. If she could have isolated the cause, she could help treat the disease. Was it lack of friendship in the church? Was it that his church was not feeding his spiritual hunger? Was he just angry at God?

Listening would be a good first step to diagnosing spiritual illness.

Sometimes we might even need to isolate the people who contribute to the cause!

“A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject” (Titus 3:10, KJV). The Greek word here is “hairetikos,” meaning “follower of a false doctrine.” It has become unpopular to call out those who are teaching falsehood, but sometimes it must be done.

May we all do what we can to stop the spread of spiritual diseases.

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Christine (Tina) Berglund

Christine lives in middle Tennessee with her husband Gary, a.k.a. "The Yard Boy." They have served churches in eight states where Gary has preached full-time most of their married lives. The children have flown the nest, but they "baby" their plants now, and even get to visit grandchildren once in a while.

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One thought on “Isolate the cause

  1. Excellent article! I loved the analogy of the pepper and people who are spiritually sick. Unfortunately, Christians are sometimes insensitive and don’t “handle with care” to really get to the root cause of the problem. That happened to me a few years ago on a Christian forum…not always the best place for healing. Hopefully, there will be others who take over in those situations and help the person find their way. Pulling off the withering pepper and throwing it in the trash doesn’t solve anything. Doesn’t work with Christians, either, as you pointed out so well. 🙂

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