These days I’m usually up at 5:30am. The sun is just lightening the sky. The air is fresh. All is quiet and peaceful; the birds are beginning to awaken. The plants in my garden are fresh with dew, lifting their heads from sleep. It is a precious time for me and my Lord as I putt around here and there tending my garden.
The garden was planted many weeks ago. It’s well established. The focus now is on keeping the weeds down. As I work, my mind goes to the similarity of weeding a vegetable garden and living the Christian life.
What are weeds exactly? Living things. They are green. They are pretty. They have flowers.
So why must they be destroyed? Don’t they have a right to life? What’s wrong with them? What is their great “sin”?
Frankly, they are thieves! Robbers! Cheaters!
They rob the vegetable plants of the nutrients in the soil; my vegetables need these nutrients to grow and produce their fruit. And they hog the sunshine; my vegetables need open contact with the sun in order to make plant energy. And they crowd the living space; my vegetables need open air for circulation, so that the bugs, mold, and other diseases don’t cripple them.
Weeds can grow in the open field, but they have no place in a vegetable garden where they rob my plants of what is needed to produce a harvest.
As I was pulling weeds last week, I was thinking “God has planted Life in me. He planted me for the purpose of producing a harvest for His glory. What weeds are in my life? What is robbing me of that which is needed to produce the fruit He desires and rightfully expects?”
Unclean thoughts…idle thoughts...imaginations. Paul exhorts us to think only on that which is wholesome, godly, righteous (Phil. 4:8). From the thought life flows energy for self-restraint, for creative ideas for ministry, for correct priorities. “As a man thinks, so is he.”
Lord, alert me to wayward thoughts; make me to do battle with ungodly rabbit trails! Bring my thoughts into conformity to Your Word, so that Your Life becomes my life. Remove this weed, so that I can bear more fruit for You.
What else robs me of being productive for Him? The weed of self-indulgence…a lack of self-discipline…wasted time…idleness. Moses prayed “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Knowledge is head-oriented; wisdom is living-oriented. By pulling the weed of self-indulgence, I remove the TV/Cable/Computer time robber. I focus my activities for eternal benefit. I harness each hour for the King’s service. I think to myself: what is the long-term consequence of this activity?
Lord, impress upon me the great loss when I waste the life you have given me this hour. Never again will this hour be given to me; when it is passed, it is gone forever. One day the books will be closed, and I will give account of each hour that You gave me life. Teach me to pull the weed of self-indulgence and sloppy management.
What about the weed of untidy relationships? So many relationships are unfocused, haphazard, without purpose. They just exist. The Evil One delights to rob us of purposeful contact with people. He wants us to be satisfied with talking about sports, with smiling greetings, with sharing recipes, with talking about the weather, with just getting along. This weed of sloppy relationship robs us of fresh air. Mold and disease grows; much emotional energy is wasted on sloppy relationships.
God, help me to use each touch with another person to spur them to look Heavenward to You! Help me to be Eternity-focused in my relationships with people! Don’t let me settle for just being comfortable in relationships.
Of course, there are many other weeds. The weed of ingratitude. The weed of unharnessed tongue. The weed of financial mismanagement. The weed of pride. The list goes on and on. Each of us has our own set of personal weeds.
For a week I was laid up and unable to get to the garden. Of course, during this week the weeds didn’t sit back and take pity upon me. No! They were busy grabbing the opportunity to grow! And by the time I got out to redeem my vegetable plants, these weeds were well established.
So what is the lesson here? First, no matter what the circumstances of our lives, the battle of the weeds is always there. The Evil One tempts us to think that because we are sick, because we are financially strapped, because we had a stressful childhood, because our spouses are the way they are….whatever the “reason,” we can afford to give ourselves slack and ignore the weeds. This is a lie straight from the Evil One! He knows the nature of weeds. He knows that Time passed is Time lost. He is the great deceiver. No matter our circumstances, we must always give diligence to removing the weeds
Second, often it is when we are “down” that the Evil One and his world system insist we redefine “weed.” By changing the label, we are excused from addressing the issue, we are lulled to spiritual sleep, we slide into compromise. So instead of lacking self-discipline, we say “that’s just my personality, and I have a right to express my personality; it’s part of me.” Or instead of dealing with idle thoughts, the world system says, “It’s human nature. How can you avoid it? Lighten up a little!” Or instead of harnessing lost time with a view to God’s glory, the Evil One and his world system try to convince us that we have a right to relax after a long day, and what’s a few hours of “enjoyment” anyway! Besides, there are some good things on TV/Cable/Web. Why be so picky about using every minute for the Lord?
No matter the temptation to redefine, we must call a “weed” a weed. We must deal honestly with ourselves about the issue. We must remove it from the garden of our lives.
Thirdly, weeds dealt with early are easier to “pull” than weeds well established. The longer I delay, the more entrenched the weeds become. Not only are there wasted nutrients, sunshine, and space, but also the act of pulling the weed often injures the vegetable plant. Roots are intertwined. Leaves are wrapped around each other. Initially the vegetable plant is left “wounded” from the removal of the overgrown weeds.
So it is far better to recognize a weed and remove it when it is still young. And so it is with us. We must recognize the robbers in our lives, and remove them before they become entrenched habits. And if we have already allowed these robbers to become entrenched, we must still remove them, even if we are left “wounded” in the process. I’ve often heard “It’s hard to remove _________ [you name the weed].” Actually, the difficulty of the process is irrelevant. It is utterly irrelevant! It needs to be done, and the sooner the better. Pain postponed is pain increased.
So if we are going to recognize weeds early and remove them early, how do we recognize a weed? Well, often in my garden, when I am planting, I place the seeds in order. Sometimes I use a string to mark a straight line, and I place the seeds along that string. As the little baby plants sprout, I check their alignment with the string. If they don’t line up, it’s safe for me to assume the baby plant is a weed. And it is removed.
This is much like the Word of God. The same God who has planted Life in you and me has given us a “string” against which to measure things. That marker, that standard is the Scriptures. For example, when the Scriptures say, “Do all things without grumbling or complaining,” it means, do all things without grumbling or complaining. All things – at the dinner table, at chore time, at school, at work. “All things without grumbling or complaining.” There are many forms of grumbling and complaining. Dawdling is grumbling, an unsmiling face is grumbling, a whining voice is grumbling, “discussing” the situation is grumbling.
The Evil One delights to confuse us into redefining a weed. We cover the definition with psychological ramifications, age-limitations, social issues, cultural variances, physical dynamics… But the string of God’s Word remains, and it will remain for all Eternity. We must discipline ourselves to deal honestly with God, with each other, and with ourselves by calling a weed a “weed” as God defines a weed. This is just another aspect of the Lordship of Christ. He is the One who defines “Weed.”. No discussion. No debate. No excuses.
The only thing remaining is for us to pull the weeds in obedience to His Lordship. And to keep pulling. Pull soon, when they are young. Pull if they are “painful.” Pull so that we can bear the fruit He has planned for us, and for which purpose He gave us life. The purpose of the Church is to spur each other to love and good works. Part of that spurring is pulling weeds. Let us help each other. Let us band together. Let us be honest about calling a “weed” a weed. Let us help each other in the pain of extraction. And then together we will bear abundant fruit for the Master who planted us and gave us life.
July 14, 2008