Last winter, I planted lemon pips on my balcony. When I squeezed the juice from a lemon I found more than 20 pips, so I wanted to see what would grow. Green shoots sprung up from 14 of the pips. I lovingly transplanted them into pots and started to think about the fruit of the righteous in the Scriptures.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever wins souls is wise
Maybe the fruit of the righteous also grows from a seed? Righteousness itself is a kind of unobtainable standard. Like perfection and unflawed beauty, it does not appear to be something we can strive to reach. But we can recognise seeds of righteousness in simple acts of kindness: when someone pays your bill for you at a café or leaves clean folded children’s clothes by the roadside. Simple acts that in themselves may not constitute full-grown fruit but are testimony to the seed’s germination.
In my own life, in the spring, my husband and I tried out some of these seeds of righteous kindness. We found so much fun in the giving without knowing who would receive our gifts nor whether they would be understood.
When a seed starts to germinate and put down roots, it appears that there is nothing happening. It takes many seasons for the plant to grow tall and strong and still many more for the fruit to appear. Yet all the time, the plant is maturing and preparing. Then one spring, the branches blossom and the first fruits appear. These same fruits carry the seeds to a new area and the plant multiplies. In a similar way, seeds of righteousness can grow, multiply and spread.
I often forgot about my lemon seedlings and only watered them haphazardly. I gave a couple away to friends and left the rest to face the increasingly scorching heat of spring. By summer, I had only two plants surviving, but these are still growing (and maybe the two that I gave away survived too?) Likewise, I often forgot to actively practise loving kindness. Sometimes I would turn away, overwhelmed by the multitude of needs in our world. But like a seed growing only in one place, I also needed to focus first on those immediately around me.
This year, as we plant trees and flowers in spring, let’s also plant acts of kindness. Let’s grow trees of righteousness. Let’s watch the seeds multiply and cross boundaries, as they spread organically. Then these seeds can bear testimony to the emerging fruit.