Our garden is massive this year. It’s actually a “multi-family” garden, shared with our friends down the street. We’re sharing the expenses, the bounty, and of course…the weeding. I’ve learned that you have to be proactive and stay ahead of the weeds or they will run you ragged all summer long. So a few weeks ago, not long after our seeds began sprouting, I hauled myself and my three little farmhands down to the neighbor’s yard to declare war on the weeds that had already crept into our sacred soil. My crew was interested for maybe ten minutes before the lure of the trampoline and shade from the sun won them over, but I attacked those intruders relentlessly for a solid two hours. When we headed back home for lunch at noon, the garden was pristine; not a weed in sight. Shoulders pink and palms blistered, I felt so proud, so accomplished, so sure that I would not be needing to pick up my hoe anytime soon.
Oh, how wrong I was!
When I returned to the garden a week later to check on things, I was perturbed to find that the weeds had returned even thicker than before. The nerve! I retrieved my hoe and began once again routing out the enemy, all the while pondering the situation. Suddenly, my brain connected my gardening dilemma to a passage in the Bible found in Luke 11:24-26.
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
I had hoed and raked the soil between my crops so carefully. I had ousted any and every weed. But what I didn’t realize was that I was creating the perfect home for new weeds. Before the soil was crusty and hard. My freshly raked rows were even more inviting than they were previously. Let’s set aside the superficial parallel for a moment and consider the deeper meaning, the warning in fact, that this passage holds for us.
When we do spiritual housekeeping and hastily sweep out our “unclean spirits”, we are doing a good thing – but our job doesn’t end there. We can’t leave freshly tilled fertile soil lying fallow. If we do, we are in danger of more weeds, worse weeds if you will, coming in.
Instead, where we uproot sin or works of the flesh, we must sow fruit of the spirit. Where strife once flourished, we must plant peace. Where sexual immorality grew, we can cultivate goodness. Where we once battled fits of anger, we can raise up patience. And in the place of jealousy, rivalries, and envy, we must grow love. When your garden is full of thriving crops, there will be no room for weeds to creep in.
I’ve noticed something interesting about weeds – they don’t care where they grow. They show up wherever there is the smallest patch of unclaimed territory. Even tiny cracks in the pavement will do. You don’t have to water them or apply fertilizer for them to spread. They are scavengers. Survivors. “Tame” plants on the other hand, are typically quite particular about where and how they are planted. Soil moisture, soil depth, seed spacing, and even soil pH can determine their success or failure. Even once the seeds have germinated and sprouted their first leaves, some plants require very specific care in order to thrive.
Isn’t this also so true of the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit? (And this is where literal gardening is far easier than spiritual gardening!) I know that if I don’t guard my thoughts diligently, it doesn’t take long for a little strife or anger to creep in uninvited. Those nasty weeds will invade any vacancies and quickly put down roots if I let them! The fruit of the spirit, however, require quite a bit more cultivating. When I purpose to grow in patience (my biggest struggle!), oh my, it takes prayer, meditation on the Word, accountability, and lots and lots of practice. It’s hard work!
In the end, it all comes down to how much pride (the healthy kind, of course) you take in your garden. Do you want your garden to be overrun with the weeds of sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, and drunkenness (Gal. 5:19-21)? Or are you willing to put in the work necessary to have a garden abounding with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23)? Not only that, but our obedience coupled with the amazing grace and truth of our Savior Jesus Christ will yield an eternal bounty in Heaven…more glorious than we can even imagine!
We’re participating in a Dive into Summer blog hop sponsored by The Southern Blog Collective! Visit our bloggy friends to see what summer goodness they’re up to! =)
Next we have an awesome list (with a printable bookmark!) about How to Teach Your Child to Love God from Mary at Nature + Nuture. Summertime is the perfect opportunity to start some new healthy spiritual habits!
And we’re finishing up with another delicious summer recipe from Stacey at A Southern Discourse…Hawaiian Hot Dogs with Pineapple Relish and Simple Pineapple Mustard! (Um, I made her recipe last week and we loved it!)