Like a gnarly invasion of weeds in a garden, certain things persist to prevent each of us from living a spiritually fruitful life.
Despite our best efforts, an inevitable battle arises year after years. Prolific and persistent weeds resist every attempt to subdue them. No matter how vigilant our efforts are, their ornery tendrils refuse to surrender.
Though I no longer farm or garden, weeds push their seedy heads even among my container plants. Infamous for their vigorous growth, they choke out more desirable plants. They thrust their boisterous crowns through cracks in the sidewalk and pavement.
Weedy attitudes often press their destructive force in our spiritual lives as well. Just when we gain the victory in one area, another area proves in desperate need of attention. Hopefully, our spiritual gardens may not be nearly as weedy as they were initially. Still, God graciously and gently points out areas where untended thoughts, attitudes, or life-patterns continue. He desires that we display true beauty as our lives produce abundantly.
Fruitfulness and beauty mark any well-maintained garden or life. Anything that threatens requires immediate attention.
Thorns and Thistles
If we could turn back the pages of time and look into the ancient Garden of Eden, God’s perfect garden, thorns and thistles would be noticeably absent. They pushed their prickly force upward and outward only after Adam and Eve sinned.
” … Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food
from it all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles
for you … “
Once humanity shared perfect unity and fellowship with God. How difficult for us to envision a time without struggling to keep life on track! Thankfully, God promises to again partner with us. Successfully, tending the spiritual gardens of life requires this partnership — God with us!
“Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”
With His help, we act against anything that chokes out the more desirable and beneficial traits that result in a flourishing life. In Him, we transform from thornbushes to long-living junipers and beautifully scented myrtles.
Here in Canada, we wait through cold, dark winter months for summer to arrive. We welcome the warmth of long, sunny days and fresh spring rains.
For many people, summer also welcomes camping and hiking, beaches and relaxation, vacations and ease. We all need times of rest and refreshing.
But beware! Let’s not allow a habit of ignoring the serious work of dealing with destructive internal issues. Apathy may give those weedy attitudes and life-patterns opportunity to take root and multiply. Solomon warns how quickly “thorns, weeds, and ruins” can take over.
“I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.”
How does the enemy so quickly get such a firm hold on us? Like a tangled vine of deception choking out life, the taproots of unforgiveness suck away hope, or the seeds of perversion multiply unrequested. Pride dashes humility beneath its arrogant growth.
To keep the vineyard of our lives producing healthy fruit requires vigilance. The walls around God’s good work within us require continual maintenance to protect from theft or damage.
“Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom.”
Song of Songs 2:15
Solomon warned that even the cutest little foxes will inevitably do significant damage to any vineyard. Let’s not wait until we see the evidence of destruction or until “little” problems become giants. May we each lead a fruitful life, eliminating anything which threatens.
Whether in relationships or ministry, minor problems may quickly escalate. Without proper attention hopelessness overcomes vision, despair replaces purpose, and fear uproots courage, and even the most fruitful life becomes sidetracked.
Jesus told a parable about a man who carefully chooses good seed for his field.
This is not the time to be caught sleeping! Satan’s emissaries come when we are off-guard or have lost our focus. Though we may not initially notice, the result becomes visible soon enough. He comes to destroy the good fruit intended to produce Kingdom purposes.
There was nothing wrong with the “seed,” or the kingdom investment the man was making. He made wise choices and worked faithfully. But while he slept, the field was ruined.
We each have negative influences working in our hearts and minds. Some we easily uproot on our own; others need the support of counsellors, pastors, or mentors. Some disintegrate through repentance or renouncing; others take consistent accountability to keep us on track.
However, we should never ignore the destructive efforts of enemy tactics! Sin, like weeds, appears lovely until we try to free yourself from its effects. The more complex and enduring the invasion, the more strategic we become at their eradication. Few people overcome long term destructive behaviors on their own. Fortunately, compassionate, skilled workers are ready to come beside us, helping us to regain lost fruitfulness.
Let’s not allow complacency to delay action. To win this spiritual battle, let’s be vigilant through:
- prayer and Bible reading
- seeking godly mentorship and accountability
- confessing to pastors or counsellors where we need help
- humbly receiving the help offered
- refusing any “quick fix”
- live in faithful obedience to Jesus
Take comfort, my friend. We all have weeds in our gardens. Together we will overcome!