Life is like a garden — planted, tended, and watered. Let’s consider what kind of fruit grows in the garden which God has planted in us.
This morning while driving through snow-slush streets, my random thoughts turned to warmer days and the work it takes to produce garden fruits and vegetables. Many times, I have planted seeds in faith, believing they would grow and bring abundance. I consistently rejuvenated the soil with well-rotted compost and diligently worked to keep the weeds away.
Even though I know that daily efforts produces the best results in the natural realm, I often grow impatient when spiritual fruit doesn’t instantly appear in my life.
I love the way Jesus explained spiritual truths through parables of land and crops. He even repeated a parable that Isaiah had told centuries earlier.
A Vineyard of the Lord
It amazes me who God chooses to invest spiritual seed into. — often the least likely and most unconducive to bear anything of value. He sees fertile ground even amongst the stones!
“…My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest of vines.”
Oh, how much work God pours into our stony lives. hoping for the potential returns. Lovingly, He chooses each one of us. Looking beneath our rough exterior, He sees value and worth.
Like in the parable, He digs out what needs to be exposed. He clears the rocky debris of rebellion and disobedience. Often, the hardened soil of our hearts resists His efforts rather than yielding to the pressure of His process. If life is like a garden, what kind of fruit will be produced in us?
How many rocks of offense must first be removed? How much of His grace will it take to soften hard-hearted attitudes and stoney selfishness? What type of gifts, or the “choicest of vines,” will He plant in us, hoping to see the fruit of His efforts?
Though we may feel abandoned during the growth process, nothing could be further from the truth.
“…He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well…”
After planting the vineyard, our Lord takes every precaution to protect the tender vines from harm. He stands in His heavenly watchtower. His eye is upon us, protecting and keeping us from and through enemy attack, while always promising to never abandon us.
As I look back, I remember many times of snaring gophers, chasing rabbits away, and ridding my little garden from pesky bugs? Weeds were quickly dug out by the roots to prevent them from sapping the garden of strength. Do you think for a moment that my garden was more valuable to me than we are to God? Hardly!
He faithfully guards the eternal seed He has invested in us, expecting to see an abundance of fruit flowing from our lives. The seedlings, once frail, lacked any potential for immediate increase, but He “cut out a winepress.” He sees ahead to what we can’t comprehend — the full result of His working in our lives.
Life is Like a Garden
Because life is like a garden, we remember that not every patch of ground produces equally. Some years an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables kept our family fed until the next year’s harvest. Other years, the produce grew sparse.
We find in Isaiah’s parable the saddest response to God’s loving efforts.
“…Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.”
I openly weep as I read this passage. God did everything God could do for us. He even sent Jesus, His Precious Son, to pay the ultimate price for our sins and to die in our place so that we might have abundant life.
Though we were nothing but specks of dust, He chose us to bear fruit. He lovingly planted the best seeds in our lives, and then nurtured and protected them.
But sadly, when it came time for a harvest, He found “only bad fruit.” Life is like a garden. Any bad fruit in our lives never results from God’s flawed efforts. “Bad fruit” in this passage literally means stinking things or be’ushim — a fungus that stunted growth and caused the fruit to shrivel and die prematurely.
Good or Bad
While God came expecting to find vitality and a bountiful harvest, He found fermented, shriveled fruit. How incredibly sad!
“What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?”
As we read this passage it causes us to solemnly consider the eternal significance of what we allow in our lives. No one desires to hear Jesus speak these words. Yet when we meet Him face-to-face, He alone will assess the outflow of our lives as either good or bad.
Invisible to the natural eye, tiny but deadly spiritual fungus spores float around us. We, too, must carefully keep watch over the garden of our lives so that we may correct anything potentially damaging to God’s good intention for us.
Many invasive things attempt to rob us of fruit. Upon closer look, we may find critical judgments, pride, slothfulness, selfishness, or even a passive acceptance of thoughts and attitudes contrary to God. Whether our spiritual be’ushim is long or short, the implications of such invasion loom large.
For Us All
Jesus repeated Isaiah’s parable in Matthew 21, to remind His listeners, then and now, of potential harm.
Fungus can live in the soil for generations but, praise be to God, so does good seed. Life is like a garden — a garden that will produce eternal benefits as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, tending it with daily consistency.