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  • Writer's picturePatty

You'll Never See that Tomato on Instagram!

Read: Galatians 2:11-14; 1 Timothy 1:12-17

A few years ago, we were getting some unimpressive looking tomatoes from the heirloom seeds we had saved. We thought that perhaps our several varieties of heirloom tomatoes had cross pollinated, and that's why we were ending up with fruit that didn't look very appealing. So rather than saving any of the seeds, even from the pretty tomatoes as we had done previously, we started afresh. We chose one tomato seed variety that we really liked for its taste and expected appearance, and that was the only kind we bought and planted in the garden. It is called Delicious, and we believed it would live up to its name. Fast forward to this morning. My husband and I were searching through the plants. Hunting for ripe tomatoes. Some have been scarred by the previous hail that pelted them, but there was something else we noticed. Many of the big green tomatoes and lots of the red ones have ridges and bumps. We thought they would be beautiful and round. Why? They couldn't have crossed with any other variety since there isn't a different one in the garden; so, after picking, I consulted Google to find out what might be making the tomatoes so strange looking. The answer? This variety, though really good for producing one to two pound fruit also often produces cracked and somewhat unattractive fruit. Tasty indeed, but let's just say, it isn't Instagram worthy. Its taste is much better than its flawed appearance often is. Evidently, "Ruffles aren't the only good thing that has ridges." Tomatoes often do too!

Unexpected flaws. It isn't only tomatoes that have them, God's people have them too. Even those who have been used to do wonderful things for Jesus have bumps and ridges. I'm thinking of Peter. Not the times when he spoke somewhat impulsively as he was interacting with Jesus; rather, a particular time when he blew it. Even after the Holy Spirit had been given and Peter had spoken boldly for Jesus. He sinned publicly, and the account is right there for us to read. If you will, it is pictured for us on biblical Instagram.

Please know that I don't point this incident out to single Peter out as having done something unthinkable. No, I'm looking at it today to express my love for our God Who makes Himself known through flawed people. That would be each of us. Peter is a reminder that we all need to remember how easily we can become ensnared in sin. Let's remind ourselves of the circumstances in which Peter found himself.

In Galatians 2:11-14, we're told the story. Peter, who knew about the grace of Jesus and that our salvation is of faith from first to last, used to eat with folks who hadn't been raised with the Jewish laws. That's how the church should be. No barriers among people, but then he encountered a trap. Some men came who didn't believe the same as Peter did. They wanted to add rules and regulations to the "grace only" way of salvation that Peter knew to be true. Would the apostle continue to demonstrate God's barrier tearing down grace in front of those who had come? Would he continue to eat and fellowship with the Gentiles who weren't keeping the Jewish laws and regulations?

Sadly, he didn't. He withdrew from them. Paul, in his confronting of Peter, called it hypocrisy, and stated that even Barnabas had been lured into the same poor thinking and actions. Peter's flaws were right out in public, and they had the potential of doing further damage to the church; so, Paul rebuked Peter. No, he didn't speak ugly words about Peter. Instead, he confronted the wrong Peter had done with the truth of the scriptures. We don't know what Peter said, but we know something encouraging about the relationship between Peter and Paul.

In Peter's second letter, 2 Peter 3:15-16, Peter called Paul a beloved brother and reminds his readers that Paul had God's wisdom. The wisdom that is in all the scriptures. I love that. Though Peter's flaw was confronted by Paul, it appears that their relationship continued to be a close one. There is another sweet reminder here. After being corrected, Peter didn't stop working for the Lord. The evil one would like to tell us that our flaws should cause us to withdraw from serving Jesus. Could the Savior use one so weak or so obviously flawed? In a word, yes. Peter is simply one example of a flawed vessel God used. As is frequently said by preachers, it is all God has at His disposal if He wants to use human beings.

Paul who confronted Peter wasn't ashamed to discuss his own flaws and sins. I love Paul's picture in 1 Timothy 1:12-17. It is here that he speaks of God's grace shining through the sins that he committed. The beauty of God's grace was vividly seen through God's transforming power that Paul experienced. No, Paul wouldn't hide the ugliness of what he had done when God's wondrous grace had been poured out and shone brightly in spite of it.

Oh, the beauty of God's grace that uses His children flaws and all, and He is not ashamed of us. Instead, He helps us grow so that we resemble Him more and more, Romans 8:29. Even though we each have bumps and ridges He is changing us from glory to glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18.

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