Impostors Among the Kale

In the blink of an eye it is almost June again. Depending on the late spring weather, the first harvest will come sometime after the middle of the month, and it will be a crop of kale and collards, Lord willing.

The deep green of the fields ready for harvest is a pretty sight. However, every year it seems, the dark and lush green is visited at some point by a squadron of soft, white, fluttering impostors. Many people who come to the farm to help harvest the first crops become almost entranced with the scene of butterflies hovering over the kale and collards. But, alas, these almost angelic looking insects are not as pure and innocent as they portray. They are, in fact, white cabbage butterflies, which are not present in abundance to beautify the field of kale, but to exploit it, as they lay white cabbage eggs under the vegetable leaves; then, the eggs hatch worms which destroy the plants.

So when folks helping to pick kale remark about how pretty the butterflies are, we try to educate them about why we need to employ some pest management techniques, because these insects are not beneficial.

Of course, it took some “discernment” on our part to learn about the perils of the soft, silent, clean-looking butterflies. We too were mesmerized for a season or two by the appealing and seemingly harmless lovers of kale. Discernment, or in this case researching enemies of the cole crop group, comes from spending time in truth and seeking the leading of the Spirit.

The Same Can Be True About People

We are all well-advised to be cautious around people who look and sound a certain way, but who may in fact be frauds focused on their own personal gain.

Indeed, Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.”

A great illustration is found in the Acts of the Apostles.

It is a good thing to be studying the book of Acts this time of year. With Pentecost and all the demonstrations of the power of the Holy Spirit, the dramatic scenes contained in Acts are compelling. Consider Acts 19:11-20, during which the demon actually speaks and condemns a group of exorcists, who are attempting to use the name of Jesus for their own personal gain.

“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’ Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

“When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.”

What a scene! The Bible tells us that even demons know and respect Jesus. (James 2:19 You believe… Good! Even the demons believe …and shudder.)

And when this family of sons was trying to exploit the name of Jesus for their own purposes, they were pummeled and sent running because the evil spirit recognized their fraudulent behavior and refused to allow it. The upshot of this attack was that the name of the Lord was magnified. Remarkable!

This story is a warning to all disciples to stay far away from those who claim the name of Jesus, but do not bear the fruit of his spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control — Galatians 5:22).

The work of the Spirit is to guide us into all truth (John 16:13) and to glorify Jesus. Note that in the Acts 19 passage, it is God who does miraculous things through Paul. All the glory goes to God. The sons of the chief priest had thought they had a new tool in their bag of tricks. They thought they would use the name of Jesus without following Him. There was no power in that, and the demon knew it. So “pest management techniques” were employed, and the sons of Sceva went running. Their pretense of being members of the Way offended even the evil spirit. When their deceit was exposed, the name of the Lord Jesus was elevated. How would any one of us, who calls him or herself a disciple of Christ, respond to the question — Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?

This blog was originally published on Lancaster Farming.