Tom Hayes

That Apple Is Rotten!

Among the different dishes my wife was preparing for our Thanksgiving dinner was cooked apples. As she took each apple from the bag, I heard her comment about one, “That apple is rotten!” Of course, it was not acceptable for her meal. Therefore, it was laid aside, and eventually thrown into the garbage with the peelings from all the other apples.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul listed many of the sins of the last days. And, right in the middle of this group, he said that men would be “unthankful” in that time. As he pulled this subject out of the bag, it might be said, “That apple is rotten!” Along with the other sins mentioned, unthankfulness is not acceptable in the meal of life.

What will we do with this rotten apple? Any relationship with an unthankful spirit is detrimental to our Christian testimony! The rotten apple of unthankfulness needs to go! It must be removed! It is my prayer that this little homily will encourage us to deal with the matter, lay it aside, and by God’s grace, dispose of it.

1. The Rotten Attitude Of Unthankfulness

The word “unthankful,” as found in 2 Timothy 3:2, means “ungracious, or unpleasing.” In other words, unthankful people cannot be pleased. Their wives or husbands can’t please them; their parents or children can’t please them; their friends and loved ones cant’ please them. Why, even God and angels can’t seem to please them!

What could be more rotten than an attitude like that? Unthankfulness, or an unpleasable spirit, is bacteria in the soul, corruption in the mind, cancer in the body. Its sour odor is offensive in heaven and in earth. Its vile juice contaminates everything around it. Its unholy stain cannot be hidden from God or men. And, in the end, its valueless mush can only be cast out as waste.

Are we grumbling about the provisions of providence? Are we complaining about the arrangements of divine wisdom? Perhaps, we have been forgetful and slow in expressing our gratitude to the Lord for His kindness. Oh, that we might guard against such rottenness! For certain, it we can’t be pleased with the blessings of His gracious hand, He can’t be pleased with us, either.

2. The Rotten Age Of Unthankfulness

It might be said that a rotten apple is the product of its environment. The added moisture of damp weather generates what the apple growers call “wet rot,” and a lot of hot weather causes the apple to shrivel up and crack open, or “dry rot.” Too, although the weather is the key factor, something as seemingly insignificant as a bee sting may open the door for bacteria to destroy the luscious fruit.

We must admit that the environment of these “last days” (3:1), the latter end, or time, doesn’t present the best conditions for thanksgiving. The heat of opposition and the stress of intimidation can cause our spirits to wither. Too, the humidity of a vile society may produce a mellowing effect in our testimony. And, there are always the little bee stings of the enemy that do much more injury than we imagine.

The word “perilous” (3:1), meaning “fierce, savage, or harsh,” and used only one other time to describe the condition of the maniac of Gadara (see Luke 6:35), suggests that the weather may be hard to bear at times. Rough winds, torrential floods, and even damaging hail will threaten the fruit of righteousness. And, if we’re not careful, the demonic elements of this dangerous age will destroy a once-grateful spirit.

3. The Rotten Associations Of Unthankfulness

Unthankfulness doesn’t really seem so bad until we compare it with the other rotten fruit. Then, we realize that one rotten apple is just as bad as another one. In the first part of the list, Paul groups the “unthankful” with those who are “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient . . . unholy” (3:2). In other words, unthankfulness is as vile as selfishness, greed, pride, slander and other forms of impiety.

The next verse doesn’t present a better side to an unthankful heart. Ingratitude appears to be rotten through and through. It is found on the same limb with those who are “Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, and despisers of those who are good” (3:3). Basically, as is the case with all of these, unthankfulness portrays a life that feels it can get along without God.

Lastly, this corrupt fruit is mentioned along with those who are “traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof” (3:4, 5). Here, we see that unthankfulness is as bad as mockery and hypocrisy. For, much of the rottenness that accompanies it even hangs on the tree in the name of God and religion.

My first form of employment was in the apple industry. After the pickers had moved from tree to another, my job was to pick up the “drop apples” under the trees. And, although the brown stains on my knees proved there were plenty of rotten apples, the fruit I emptied out of my picking sack indicated there were some good ones there, too. So, with the Lord’s help, may we strive to be genuinely thankful. May it not be said of fruit in our lives, “That apple is rotten! Amen.