A teacher friend recently gave me an education article to read (J. Gonzalez, author). It got me to thinking.
There is such a thing as companion planting. In gardening and agriculture, different crops are planted in close proximity with each other for several purposes: to increase crop productivity by improving pest control and pollination, as well as to provide a habitat that entices beneficial creatures. In other words, if you place certain plants near others, it will advance their growth. Did you know that planting garlic next to your roses will help prevent fungal disease? Vine growers often plant roses beside their grapes as an early alert to bugs and weather changes.
Marigolds are prime examples and one of the best companion plants available. They can shield other plants from a variety of harmful insects and weeds, and they also repel another, much larger plant predator – deer. Grow marigolds next to your backyard garden vegetables and they will become stronger, healthier, long-lasting plants.
Is it possible that God is using nature, His creation, to provide us with a perfect example and lesson of how we should relate to those in our own life’s backyard? I believe we need to look for and stay close to all of the “marigolds” that God places in our lives. If we are intentional about this, we will certainly grow and flourish and thrive where He has placed us.
Better yet … you be a marigold! You encourage others, nourish their growth, and challenge those within your sphere of influence to become their very best. You practice the biblical traits of helping, supporting, serving, motivating, loving. You be the kind of person that others will want to be around.
Knowledgeable and productive gardeners never put their vegetables next to walnut trees. This is because walnut trees discharge a noxious substance that hinders growth. Nearby plants can easily wither and eventually die. The lesson here is obvious: Don’t spend your time with “walnut trees” – those negative, toxic, and cancerous people which you are likely to encounter in almost any circle. There is a high likelihood that you will be poisoned by their attitude. Stay away!
More importantly, don’t ever choose to be a walnut tree. Here are some qualities you might look for as warning signs that you have joined this toxic grove: people who are focused on self, negative or hateful, arrogant, unwilling to submit to authority, impersonal and shallow, gossipers, whiners, or lacking a servant heart. Do any of those traits sound like you?
Now all of this may seem like a great secular principle, but is there any biblical support for the concept? If you read Psalm 1:1-3, I think you will notice a very similar analogy when the psalmist warns against planting oneself next to the wicked (the sinners, the mockers). Instead, there is blessing in being a tree who daily delights in obedience to the Lord, drawing from His living water and producing His fruit. A second passage of Scripture, Jeremiah 17:7-8, confirms this principle as well. Jeremiah speaks here of the blessed person who is willing to trust in God. He will be a strong-rooted plant with green leaves and ever-bearing fruit, who lives without fear or worry as he presses in with confidence to the Lord.
So I bought myself a packet of marigold seeds. I keep it in my Bible. It is a great object lesson and wonderful reminder of the kind of plant I aspire to be.