“Don’t Pick My Fruit”

Helping ourselves over helping others

I walk down the road, the clouds above me hang thick with what looks like promises of rain, except it’s summer in California, and it’s 100 degrees. As I stare out at the browned, drought-parched hills around me, I think about how much we really need some of that sweet water, especially with all the fires that have recently occurred.

And just as I think about how much of a tease those clouds are, there I see it: a sign underneath a grapefruit tree that reads “Don’t pick my fruit.”

Large, luscious and bright-yellow grapefruit. Might not be the rain we need, but definitely would provide some summer refreshment. Or maybe it would just be a tease for some passerby like me.

As I saw the plump grapefruit tree and the little whiteboard sign beneath it, I laughed. But then I started feeling a little bit of distaste and even dislike for the person who wrote it. Why would someone find the need to put that sign up? It’s seems just a little bit rude, entirely unfriendly, and entirely some other word I can’t think of right now…

What prompted that person to do that?

If you saw that sign, would you care enough to stop, read it again, have a reaction?

Then I think about some random person picking off fruit from that person’s tree….that’s pretty darn rude.

So I find myself conflicted. Why am I bothered? Who would I be? The person picking fruit, or the person writing that sign?

I can’t help but think of Leviticus 23:22, a passage in the Bible that talks about leaving some of the land’s harvest for the poor and strangers to glean.

Would people actually do something like that now? What side would I choose if that were my tree?

What about solicitors? Do you avoid them when they come to your door? Would you put up a sign that reads “No Soliciting”?

So. Many. Questions.

It’s interesting, the neighborhood I walk through every week has the most “No Soliciting” signs I’ve seen all in one place. It makes me wonder, what is being solicited here and how often do solicitors come?

It’s also the same neighborhood I saw the “Don’t Pick My Fruit” sign.

I’d like to think I would let people pick fruit from my tree, but I can just feel the greed and unwillingness to help others flowing through my veins, and it’s a little concerning.

I have a friend who I spent 10 days with in another country. Throughout the whole time, while everyone else was bitter and complaining, she remained selfless, loving, considerate, compassionate, and just all around happy, even in inconvenient and uncomfortable situations.

In the particular town we were in, one case of bottled water cost at least double what it costs here in California. She only had a few bottles left and offered them to me when my water ran out, with no hesitation at all.

And it’s not like we could just go around the corner to get another case like that, either.

I’m ashamed to say, I would have hesitated. If I spent my money on my case of bottled water that I bought just for me, I would think to myself, “Sorry, ya’ll are on your own.”

I think I’d be the same with the fruit on my fruit tree. Sorry, ya’ll are on your own. So when I got a little bitter after reading the sign I passed by, I think some of the bitterness came from realizing that I am that neighbor.

But I don’t want to be. I want to follow that counsel from Leviticus. I want to think about other people.

But we often don’t want to help others. And even more amazingly, sometimes people don’t want our help, which is crazy bananas to me!

And so the cycle continues.

Why can’t we just stop thinking of ourselves all the time, and offer help to others, even if they don’t give us so much as a thank-you in return? 

Why is it mostly a take, take, take mentality, at least in the places I’ve lived ?Must we live in this kind of a world?

It’s also very easy for me to not want to help others. People are manipulative sometimes.

One time a girl drove up to me in a parking lot as I was walking to my car. She asked me for money to buy her nieces baby formula. Just as I was about to give her money, I heard someone in the distance say that they had already given her money, which “should be enough to buy diapers.” Busted, the girl then sped off.

Wow, I thought. Close call. The woman who had shouted behind me came up and said, “Yeah, I thought something was weird about her asking for money like that. But I gave it to her anyway. Why? Because I’m a Christian. I believe in helping others, even if I don’t know what they end up doing with that money.”

Because of people like that girl, I get caught up in this attitude of not wanting to help people at all.

But the woman made a good point. She helped that person, and she even helped me. People who claim the name of ‘Christian’ aim to be like Christ: giving, helpful, and selfless.

Do I aim to be that way?

Christian or not, I think we should all aim to be like that. There are so many problems out there, it only makes sense to help other people when we are able to.

Until next,

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