Wisdom from my little ole’ fig tree?
People have sewn them together and worn them, eaten them as a laxative, and grown them for thousands of years. It’s named in the Tanakh, New Testament and Quran. King Solomon mentioned them around 940 B.C. and Charles Dicken’s in 1848 rewrote a proverb using it.
In my new adventure of being a fig farmer, I wanted to share what my figs taught me today.— (I am currently growing three Chicago Figs in my Zone 5b Heartland Garden — Ficus carica “Hardy Chicago.”
Monday of this week, it was a beautiful 70˚F and gardening was blissful. Tuesday we got our first central Indiana snow. Although the snow melted on impact, I am doing research inside today.
Figs are the first tree mentioned in the Bible. They are also the most mentioned fruit —over 47 times. Figs represented peace and prosperity.
But in James chapter 3, he warns listeners how evil our tongues can be. James 3:7-8 notes that “every species species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. “
This was especially true during the 2012 Presidential Campaign as Americans chose sides.
James further explains by using analogies in (3:11 – 3:13):
…From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?
Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.
As Matthew Henry wrote around 1706: A truly wise man is a very knowing man: he will not set up for the reputation of being wise without laying in a good stock of knowledge; and he will not value himself merely upon knowing things, if he has not wisdom to make a right application and use of that knowledge. These two things must be put together to make up the account of true wisdom: who is wise, and endued with knowledge? Now where this is the happy case of any there will be these following things:—1. A good conversation. If we are wiser than others, this should be evidenced by the goodness of our conversation, not by the roughness or vanity of it. Words that inform, and heal, and do good, are the marks of wisdom; not those that look great, and do mischief, and are the occasions of evil, either in ourselves or others. 2. True wisdom may be known by its works. The conversation here does not refer only to words, but to the whole of men’s practice; therefore it is said, Let him show out of a good conversation his works. True wisdom does not lie in good notions or speculations so much as in good and useful actions. Not he who thinks well, or he who talks well, is in the sense of the scripture allowed to be wise, if he do not live and act well. 3. True wisdom may be known by the meekness of the spirit and temper: Let him show with meekness, etc. It is a great instance of wisdom prudently to bridle our own anger, and patiently to bear the anger of others. And as wisdom will evidence itself in meekness, so meekness will be a great friend to wisdom; for nothing hinders the regular apprehension, the solid judgment, and impartiality of thought, necessary to our acting wisely, so much as passion. When we are mild and calm, we are best able to hear reason, and best able to speak it. Wisdom produces meekness, and meekness increases wisdom.
So, in short, I learned from my figs, James and Matthew Henry:
Words that inform, and heal, and do good, are the marks of wisdom; not those that look great, and do mischief, and are the occasions of evil, either in ourselves or others. — Matthew Henry
Now, I just need to pop a fig in my mouth to temper my tongue every time I’m tempted to use words that look great, and do mischief and are the occasions of evil. And when I don’t have a mouthful of fig, to use words that inform, heal and do good — marks of wisdom.