When it’s time to lay the eggs, a female butterfly searches for the appropriate host plant for her youngsters to grow up on. She instinctively knows that her hatchlings are limited as to what kind of plant they will eat, and places her eggs only on that plant.
When the caterpillars emerge from the eggs, they will stay on that particular host plant until they are adults who can fly. People who want to attract certain kinds of butterflies will do a little research to find out what that breed will eat, because the egg-laying butterfly won’t be fooled. For example, a Monarch eats only milkweed. A Viceroy has a few options: willow, poplar, aspen, apple, cherry, or plum. The Zebra Swallowtail needs pawpaw. And the Pearl Crescent is limited to asters. The list goes on and on, and is particular to each variety of butterfly.
The context for this discussion is Romans 12:1-2, so it may be helpful to understand that we are instructed not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). According to the extended metaphor of metamorphosis, the food we’re concerned about is what we’re feeding our minds, because that’s the point in this verse and in our day-to-day lives. It’s crucial that we select the appropriate “host plant” for our mind and spirit.
The kind of Butterfly Believer you are will determine what you feed on, where you spend your time, what you read, who you hang out with, and what you choose for entertainment. A few relevant questions include: “Who and what are you allowing to influence you?” “Are your choices helping you to be strong in your faith and more faithful as a follower of Christ?” “Are you developing a keen sense of discernment, or like the butterflies, a well-developed instinctive knowing what is right or wrong when it comes to feeding?”
The apostle Paul wrote to one congregation: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).
There is no “one size fits all” approach. What you do to care for and feed your mind and your spirit is extremely important, but also highly personal. Like the butterfly that looks for the right host plant to land on, you have to discover what works for you. And yet, you can also learn from others. As it says in Philippians 4:9, Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
The above is an excerpt from the book, Butterfly Believers.