Our garden is off to a good (though late) start this year, However, with the unusual amount of rain this spring, the weeds are doing their best to out-pace the vegetables. Most of our attempts to maintain our plot of land have been thwarted by the marshy garden soil that’s been more like a swamp than the sun-baked ground that typifies a normal Georgia summer. But the rains finally took a break and this past weekend, we were able to carefully step around the softer spots to get down the rows and do a little weeding. And you know, it didn’t take us nearly as long as I had expected. In fact, the super-saturated soft dirt made uprooting the unwanted plants amazingly easy!
While I was carefully removing morning glories, nut grass and a variety of other nuisances, I couldn’t help but see a parallel to following Jesus. That is … The softer the soil of your heart, the easier it is to identify and remove the weeds of sin that, left unchecked, have the potential to overtake and ruin the fruit that Jesus desires from your life.
While ignoring small transgressions may not seem significant at the moment, the real danger emerges when continual resistance to God’s directions, deadens our sensitivity and creates the frightful state of being unable to discern between right and wrong. As this resistance to the things of God settles into our spiritual outlook and is baked in place, it’s as if a hard layer forms around our hearts and we’re less able to be receptive to God’s Spirit speaking through it.
While we can be amazingly adept at justifying our inaction with all kinds of reasonable sounding defenses, James cuts through all the our with a stern warning in 4:17 – “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
Read that verse again carefully. James is telling us that when we know what to do, and don’t do it, it’s sin. And sin always has consequences. Always. (Gal. 6:7)
That’s why when God speaks through His Word, a pastor, or another believer, we need to be quick to respond, so that our hearts remain moldable, pliable, and free from entanglements of sin. (Heb 12:1-2)
I realize that in less than a week, I’ll be back out to the garden pulling more weeds. That unchanging part of gardening is never much fun, but it’s essential if the goal is cultivating strong plants that produce good fruit. Believers must develop similar diligence in caring from their spiritual health to insure that their spiritual fruit is healthy, strong and uncompromised by sin.
Remember that we’re not alone in our labor. Our Heavenly Father is committed to making His children more like His Son and always works to draw us closer to Him. We can trust that when we give ourselves to the care of the Master Gardener, Jesus, He’ll sow seeds of righteousness that, if we work with Him, will produce a crop more bountiful than we can imagine. (Eph 3:20-21)