22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
When my daughter was a toddler, we had a garden. Two rows of cherry tomatoes climbed up wooden trellises at its edge. The bright red fruit were just the right height for my daughter to pick. Unfortunately, she was allergic to tomatoes, and would develop a rash around her mouth as soon as she ate them. When I went out to weed the garden with her in tow, I would sternly warn her not to pick the cherry tomatoes. But usually in just a matter of minutes, she would come running to me for comfort, her little face red and smarting, a tell tale sign that she had disregarded my warning.
It was frustrating to keep consoling her when I knew that if she would just listen to me, she could avoid the pain. One day as I held her little body close, comforting her once again, I suddenly saw myself in God's arms. In the Bible, God has warned me against getting entangled with sin. Yet, like my daughter, I am often unable to resist the temptation. The attractive "fruit" lures me and I pick it, knowing full well it will bring me pain. I could imagine God shaking His head sadly and saying, "If only you had listened to me."
Yet God never tires of comforting me when I run to Him for consolation, contrite after disobeying. Just as I was patient with my daughter, He is patient with me.
Lord, help me to take Your warnings seriously. Help me to learn from my mistakes and not to keep eating the cheery tomatoes.