Here in Erie, Pennsylvania, USA spring has FINALLY sprung after a long and cold winter. Everyone goes outside to mow their lawns and tend to their gardens. The house my husband and I are renting has a yard full of weeds. Once the rain waters the earth, I go outside and till the ground and try to uproot the weeds. You wouldn’t believe the size of some of the taproots! I start tugging on one and it is so thick and long and has a lot of little offshoots that lead everywhere. These weeds have been here far longer than my husband and I have been renting this house. I am always happy when I can pluck out one of those giant taproots. Some weeds are surprisingly beautiful. They have gorgeous flowers, but they are still weeds. Other weeds are invasive and want to take over the yard, especially the dandelions! Most weeds are stubborn and persistent and just won’t go away. I think I have plucked them all out when three more pop up within the next few days. Often people just let weeds go and they run rampant. Some people spray poison and herbicides on their gardens in an effort to temporarily get rid of weeds. The problem is that these products destroy a lot of good things too. And lastly some people do the laborious task of uprooting weeds with their hands or with tools like a rototiller. No one likes weeds, as they can be sneaky and difficult to remove.
In our spiritual lives we want to cultivate and nurture beautiful gardens full of the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” Galations 5:22-23. We must let the Holy Spirit have His way in our hearts and minds. We have to be careful what we allow our minds to dwell upon. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” Romans 12:2. Worldly pleasures might seem nice for a moment, but they will soon take over our gardens. Sin begins with that little seed planted in our heads that tells us to disobey the Lord and do something we alone desire. We have to be really careful how we think because our thoughts lead to our actions. “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. Your garden will be amazing if you keep in step with the Spirit and His promptings.
Let the Lord be your landscape designer and head gardener for a beautiful spiritual garden. “And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” Isaiah 58:11. Let the Lord be the one to guide your garden and give it proper care. Upon first glance your garden might look great, but the Lord knows where the ugly spots are located. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. The Lord knows the areas that aren’t getting enough light, nutrients and water. God can see your heart like no one else. “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7. You might be able to fool the casual observer, but there is no fooling God. “For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths” Proverbs 5:21. Don’t be afraid or discouraged when He shows you something that shouldn’t be in your garden. He will help you figure out how to get rid of it and let your garden flourish with beauty and goodness once again.
Starve the flesh, feed the Spirit, and fertilize your garden with God’s Word and His promises. Our garden can become chock-full of weeds. Once rooted, they can remain for years and years and years. They are definitely easier to unknowingly plant then to willingly remove. Weeds represent our flesh and evil desires and actions. “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” Galations 5:20-21. We have to choose everyday whether we will nourish the weeds in our garden or the beautiful fruit of the Spirit. A garden that favors the wicked will eventually dry up. “For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water” Isaiah 1:30. The Lord must water and nourish our gardens or our gardens will become giant weed beds that are ugly with no fruit and hold nothing that the Lord can use to further His kingdom. Eventually a garden full of weeds will have no value and be destroyed. “Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: ‘First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn'” Matthew 13:30. God knows which gardens are flourishing under his care, those that are dying and need a revival, and those that will ultimately turn from the Lord forever. “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age” Matthew 13:40. As Christians, we are bondservants of God, and under His guidance and direction our spiritual gardens can be beautiful.
How does your spiritual garden look today? Pray to the Lord and ask Him to show you where the weeds are and to help you pluck out the taproots for good. “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” 1 Peter 2:1. The Lord is the best defense against these weeds. He is better than any herbicide, which only offers temporary relief. He is the ultimate weed removal! It won’t happen overnight, but with God’s help we can have beautiful gardens! “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” Ephesians 4:31, 32. If your spiritual garden gets all of its energy and vitality from the Lord, it can be a huge blessing to others! Your fruit can be sweet and attractive and lead others to Christ. Your beauty can lead others to admire the Creator. The Lord will delight in you, and you will withstand every season and be prosperous unto Him who made you!
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.