Aug 25, 2019 06:00am
Tending the Gardens of Our Lives

It’s too nice of a day to stay indoors! The flowers that the kids and I planted are doing GREAT, but so are the weeds! I wish I had had the money to put down blackout tarp at the beginning. It would be a lot less work now, so if I get the money, I may still go back and do it. But in the meantime, I took the opportunity of a beautiful day to clear out the flowerbeds. 

Whenever I am weeding, I am always reminded of how our spiritual life is like a flowerbed or a garden. If we do not tend to it, weeds start to spring up. Let it go for a few days, and you may only have a few tiny sprouts. It’s nothing, right? 

“I’ll take care of it tomorrow,” we tell ourselves. Sin always starts small and seemingly harmless. But let it go unchecked for a little while, and now you’ve got big trouble! 

What seemed like not such a big deal is now firmly rooted and harder to dig out. We must be constantly on the alert about what we are letting grow in the garden of our hearts.  

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” 

Our hearts are the center of everything in our lives. They are like the spiritual hub that all of our “networks” flow from. Or, to use the garden analogy, the soil that everything takes root in and grows. 

Good, well-tended soils will produce good things; bad or untended soil will produce bad things.

Luke 6:45 says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (See also Matthew 7:17-18.)

While what is inside of us controls what comes out of us (Matthew 15:10-20), it can also work inversely: What we take in affects the condition of our soil/hearts. The maxim “Garbage in, garbage out” definitely has biblical truth. 

Scripture talks about not putting worthless things before our eyes (Psalms 119:37). While a “good” heart can only be created by God’s supernatural work of God through salvation, thus turning him/her into a new creation with a new heart, we must still be careful about what we put into our hearts. 

What we read, watch, listen to, look at, and the influences in our lives matter. 

We must be diligent to nourish our soil with things that will cause healthy growth. 

We must also do maintenance on the garden of our hearts, being on the lookout for anything we may have let slip by  (weeds beginning to sprout) then using the necessary means/tools to remove them. 

There are three way we can keep watch over our hearts, nourish them, and root out weeds in few ways:

1) Daily being in God’s Word 

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).

This is simple and straightforward; we use the Word of God to guard our hearts or “hedge us in”, if you will. Daily intake of his Word will keep our hearts on the straight and narrow path, guarding us from turning to the right or to the left (Proverbs  4:27). 

Similarly, 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

The Greek word used for “sober” is sophron, which literally means “sound” or “healthy”. A “sober” or sound mind comes from keeping our minds saturated in the Word of God so that it serves as our compass for life, always pointing us “true north”.

2) Being watchful in prayer

In the famous passage on the Armor of God, we are given a list of things that will help us “stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). 

We put much stock in the items that correlate to a physical piece of armor but often take little notice of the last admonition that says, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). 

Prayer is another offensive weapon (along with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God) in our arsenal against sin, and so we must use it at all times if we want to guard the battle soil of our hearts. 

Another way we can search out “weeds” in our hearts is to ask God through prayer to point out any sins in our lives that we are not aware of, as David did in the Psalms. Our prayer could be one similar to his: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalms 139:23-24).

3) Being in close enough fellowship with other believers that they can be “weed” inspectors in our lives

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).

Sin is deceptive. Sometimes it creeps in unnoticed. Other times it disguises itself. Sometimes we try to convince ourselves that it’s not a big deal, or no one will know, or we can stop when we want to. Other times, we are in flat out denial or rebellion. 

This passage calls us to “take care,” watching over our hearts so that we do not become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 

But we are not called to do this in isolation. We are told to “exhort one another”. 

God knows that we are not always good or honest at inspecting our own hearts, so he gives us the body of believers to help us.  

This means we need to be around the body frequently and transparently so they can be a tool in our garden bag for identifying and removing sin in our lives, and we can be the same for them. While we are supposed to do our due diligence to examine ourselves first (Matthew 7:3-4; 2 Corinthians 13:5), we are also there to help our brothers and sisters in Christ (Matthew 7:5). 

I am so thankful that God has provided these means, along with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit inside of us, to tend to our spiritual garden. 

Let us take every care to keep watch over our garden, asking God to lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13) to keep us back from presumptuous sin (Psalms 19:13), and to use his Word to illuminate the soil of our hearts (Psalms 119:105). 

And when we do give into temptation and end up sinning, let us be diligent to cut it out immediately at the root so that our once beautiful flowerbed does not become an overgrown tangle of weeds.