The problem of spiritual weeds
Sometimes we can learn profound spiritual lessons from the most unexpected sources.
Many years ago I was going through a difficult time in my life and found myself wading through the book of Job – a challenging book at the best of times. I had been going through a “school of the Holy Spirit” period in which a lot of my thinking was being challenged by God and His Word.
One day while walking in our front garden I noticed that the lawn was being overrun with weeds. The weeds had become so pervasive that I could hardly see any grass. It was a bit of a shock to realise that I had not noticed it earlier.
Not being a gardener but armed with a resolve to do something about this problem, I started pulling out the weeds bit by bit. Slowly but surely I worked my way across the garden. Just as I was about to congratulate myself on a job well done, I suddenly realised that the weeds had again started growing where I had first started weeding. It was as if I was fighting a losing battle!
It’s time for weed killer
Enough of this nonsense I thought. It’s time for weed killer! I rushed out to the nearest garden centre and returned with my new weapon of choice. I hastily read the instructions, and started mixing the concentrated poison with water to dilute it as per the instructions on the bottle. I came to the conclusion that the ratio did not seem to be right so decided (contrary to the instructions), to add more weed killer. My logic was that the weed killer would simply kill the weeds more quickly and effectively.
The next day I rushed out to the garden but felt disappointed that there was no sign of dead weeds. But the second day of inspection came with a surprise; both the weeds and the grass had been killed!
In a panic I contacted my mother. She had always been an avid gardener and it seemed that everything she touched turned to green. During discussion about my experience it suddenly struck me that I had never seen her use weed killer in her garden. I asked her the million dollar question “Why have I never seen you using weed killer, and why is your garden always lush and green?”
Her answer startled and confused me. She replied ..
I do not have to use weed killer because I simply water the grass more.
She then proceeded to explain that weeds thrive in the absence of water and progressively displace the grass. The solution is to water the garden regularly so that that the grass grows and progressively displaces the weeds!
The spiritual conflict within us
This is a metaphor of our spiritual lives. We all wrestle with sin in our lives and often do not do the things we know we should do. Conversely, we struggle to do the things we know we ought to do. Paul explained it like this …
Romans 7:15-20 (NKJV)
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
If we associate sin with weeds in a garden, the spiritual metaphor becomes clear; sin is like a weed in our lives. It can easily become very pervasive and destroy the life of our spirit man. But the solution is not to apply doses of law (weed killer); the solution is to focus on watering our spiritual lives with the Word of God and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
The water of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit will cause us to grow spiritually so that progressively we desire more and more the things that please God rather than our carnal nature. It’s about focusing on life rather than death. Jesus came to transform us – to give us life. And He sent the Holy Spirit to empower us and His Word to help renew our minds.
Let me encourage you to expose yourself to the Giver of Life who alone has the power to destroy the power of sin in your life. Submit to God, resist the Devil and he will flee from you.
Our lives always bear fruit – either Spiritual or Carnal
So how will we know that we are growing spiritually? The simple answer is that we will manifest the fruits of the Spirit (the righteousness of God), rather than the fruits of the flesh (the unrighteous fruits of sin and rebellion against God). If we sow to the Spirit man we will reap the good fruits of the Spirit, but if we sow to the flesh, we will reap the bitter fruits of the flesh.
Galatians 5:19-21 (NKJV)
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery,fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
So we are the ones who have the responsibility to sow good seeds in our life. But it is the Holy Spirit who waters the seed and brings forth good spiritual fruit in our lives. Amen to that !