Growing up on a small hobby farm I learned about raising your own food. To this day I think a fresh grown ear of corn or tomato is far superior to one purchased in a local store. I enjoy the produce shared between the families of our current church very much. However, I enjoy produce that comes from my own garden even more. I realize it takes work to prepare, plant, and maintain a garden. The satisfaction of doing it is highlights of my summer and early fall. It is also a great stress relief to do get my hands in the dirt and work the soil, especially for someone who spends much of the time with people and inside studying.
While spending some time in my garden recently I carefully pulled weeds, and picked some ripening tomatoes. I enjoyed the time. No, I didn’t say I love to weed, but I enjoyed working in the garden. I would have to say weeding is one of the hardest parts of gardening, as any gardener would tell you. When I was young I used to hate the days that my father would say, “We have to go weed the garden.” Why weed? The fact is they will just come back, and often with more aggression than the first time.
Sin is much like the weeds in our garden. Many people struggle to work their heart and mind over to remove areas of sin. Yet, in time the sinful desires seem to overwhelm them with a stronger vengeance. They seem to fall over and over again into the same trap, wondering all the while why they can not overcome the way others they have seen in the Christian walk. These people are left to feel like failures in faith by the father of sin. Satan wants Christians defeated, because they can not witness and expand the gospel when they are defeated inside.
What can someone do who is in this state of defeat and cycle of sin? First, they must realize that the battle for the soul is not for us to fight alone. We can, and must, trust God. In Christ is the hope of true forgiveness and conquering power. Jesus referred to God as a gardener when describing our relationship as vine and branches, found in John chapter fifteen. In His example he speaks of God pruning or cutting away from us the unproductive parts, so the productive parts can grow. It fits well with our example of the weeds. We must allow God to weed the garden of our soul, so that the fruit may grow in us.
Some may say, but I have asked God in again and again. The weeds keep coming back and pulling my life down. The reality is that the only way to get weeds out of the garden is to pull them completely out. If only a small bit of root remains it will grow back, and be just as destructive. The only way to be rid of the weed is to remove it completely. God can do this to our soul if we will let him in.
We come to the second point. We must let God into our heart. Many people in our town have fences around their gardens, because rabbits like to come in and eat the fruits of our labor. Many of us have built fences around our heart as defense against being hurt. This defense is so strong that we refuse to let anyone in. God wants to come in and help us, but we are holding the gate shut. We have to open the gate up and let God come in through his word and the Holy Spirit’s direction. God is not going to force Him on us, but instead he waits patiently at the gate for us to let Him come and clean and improve the garden of our hearts.
There is another fact that we must be very aware of in the process of allowing God to clean the weeds of sin out of our hearts. We have to be careful about what we allow into the soil of our heart and soul. In a garden you must continually add more to the soil each year, because of all that is removed by the fruits. You have to have the right balance of nutrients, water, minerals, and sun for a garden to grow and flourish. I had a friend once who purchased a load of compost from a local distributor. Compost is a wonderful way to replenish a garden’s natural nutrients. The only problem is that the compost contained roots and seeds of weeds. While the nutrients would have been good for the garden the weeds would have been more destructive than helpful. We sometimes sabotage our lives, by turning back to areas where we were tempted before we came to Christ. If we are throwing a weedy mix of sinful sights and attractions back into our heart and mind it will open us up for sin to grow.
There is also the area of balance that I mentioned. Everything we do should be balanced out with the Scripture and prayer. Shortly after I was married we moved to a home that had great soil. I planted several tomatoes and they flourished. I added a spray of plant food weekly to the garden, and watched the plants reach over my waist. I could almost taste the tomatoes I knew were going to come later in the year. Near the end of August I realized that the tomatoes were not going to come. While the plants looked wonderful, green, and lush. They were fruitless. I am not sure what exactly was missing in the soil, because I didn’t have it analyzed. I do know that something was not in balance. Many people seek to rebuild their lives on the writings and thoughts of people. They may be wonderful authors, even Christian experts on areas we feel we must improve. Yet, if we are not balancing it out with the Word of God and personal devotion we are in danger of pushing our soul a bit out of balance.
In the end we must realize that the garden of our soul is very delicate. In the hands of the Master we can grow, flourish, and bear an abundance of fruit. We must let God be the gardener of our soul. He knows the balance we need to be fulfilled and flourishing in and for His glory. So, open the gate of your heart and soul. Let Him in to create you into His blessed vine.
– Keep on your Journey