While it seems spring has not yet sprung, the produce aisle at the grocery store is showing new signs of life. Due to the advancement of global shipping, “fresh” produce is often available year-round. But our taste buds still know the difference between fruit that has ripened in a dark shipping container rather than grown a state away and shipped the next day.
Usually, my eyes can also see the difference, but not always. How disappointing it can be to bite into a large bright red strawberry only to realize the inside does not match the outside! Various methods can be used to produce their eye-pleasing exterior, though the ripeness of the strawberry is still lacking.
We so often can do this as teachers and parents with our children. We are fond of methods that produce a shiny presentable exterior. As both a parent and an educator, well-behaved children make me feel proud to think that I am doing a good job. But just like the disappointment of an artificial strawberry, artificial fruit in the lives of our children is equally disappointing.
Fruit cannot ripen from the outside in but from the inside out. Our discipleship training should always focus on heart transformation above behavior modification. Behavior modification is often necessary in the moment for simple safety and respectful order. But lasting good works, the good works that God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in, must come from the heart.
Just like truly ripe fruit takes time, true heart transformation also takes time. Time to slow down, invest in the moment, reference God’s truths, and train up our children in the way they should go. And while fruit from the vine is seasonal, discipleship training should be continuous in our homes, classrooms, and hallways.
“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9