Who says?

Those tomatoes and peppers really should do better.

For that matter, there must be a couple dozen plants that don’t thrive in the garden as well as I’d like. Many times it is just a matter of simply not noticing that there is a problem, before I have a chance to correct it.

Luke 13:6-9 tells us of a farmer who wanted to give one tree some special treatment before he gave up on it. It wasn’t bearing figs.

His solution was one that was tried and true. Maybe he had the advantage that he didn’t live during this “information age” that we find ourselves in. Not a day goes by that some person or group sends me information how to get my garden to grow better.

Unfortunately, some of those methods are wrong, and some are even dangerous.

Just like the meme about migraines that keeps popping up, they are irritating in their inaccuracy and even inherent danger. If one more person tells me to balance my hindquarters on a tiny bathroom vanity while putting my feet and hands in warm water and a bag of peas on my neck, I might come unglued!

Bag of frozen peas? Have they never heard of reusable ice packs? Perching precariously on a countertop…with a sick headache? I don’t have THAT much life insurance to risk breaking my neck!

Other well-meaning people suggest using salt and vinegar to kill weeds. While this might be effective in a parking lot, you won’t want to try using soil laced with salt to grow your flowers.

Sure, in many cases people are just passing along information that they think may be useful. But the sad truth is that much of it is mis-information. Unless you are growing azaleas, your vinegar may put too much acid in your soil. Beer and mouthwash may not be effective in repelling mosquitoes. The “Sinner’s Prayer” is not even in the scriptures, and cannot save you.

Remember the old children’s game of “Simon Says?” If the instructions are given with the preface “Simon says,” the children are “safe” to follow them. If they follow the instruction to “raise your right foot” without that preface, they are “out” and they lose.

Now if you preface your gardening instructions with “The University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension says,” I will sit up and take note. Same goes for “Angie Han says.”

“Spray your whole yard with Sevin.” Who says? People who think all insects are bad? Sorry, I’m not going to do that. I like my bees and butterflies!

The same goes with spiritual instruction of any kind. Who says? The kind soul who taught me the gospel used to say, “Don’t take my word for anything. Check it out with the Bible!” Wise words.

A popular but dangerous doctrine accuses those among us who are not physically “prospering” of a lack of faith. They have one major “proof text.”

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2, NASB).

This passage has been wrenched out of context so badly that its roots aren’t even visible! Other writers have done an admirable job of explaining John’s letter to Gaius, but for now let it suffice to say that the “prosperity gospel” and other “feel good” messages need to be examined in the light of true biblical authority.

Maybe someday I’ll try the weird mosquito repellent. I might put Epsom salts on my peppers.

But in matters of faith, we can take no such chances!

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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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