I so admire people who have the gift of gardening. Perhaps that’s because I am so bad at it. Both my husband and I have two black thumbs when it comes to horticulture. It’s not that we don’t ever try—we are just not talented in that area. We inevitably either drown or dehydrate plants.
The only thing we know how to grow is weeds—this we do well:( Probably because we don’t try to cultivate them. They just produce and increase on their own without our involvement. It’s not really something to brag about, but we sure do know how to maintain mature weeds!
Outside one of my windows, I can see an entire patch of overgrown weeds. Within this cluster of wild foliage, there is one weed that stands out of the crowd—a real winner. It was screaming for attention. So I gave it some. I walked outside to measure it.
Again, not a proud moment to share, but a truthful disclosure . . . it measured 85”, which means this towering weed was slightly over 7 feet tall!
As I continued to stare at the “Jack and the Beanstalk” weed, I felt a blog post in the making. I wasn’t sure what the spiritual connection was yet, so I prayed that the Holy Spirit would disclose one to me.
God asked me, “What do you see Sarah?”
I answered, “An overgrown unkempt weed.”
“Why?” He asked.
I love it when God poses a question that forces me to think deeper. So this was my response back:
“Because we don’t give lawn maintenance the time it needs/deserves. We allow weeds that we see to keep growing because the sight of it does not affect us enough to want to do something about it. We are too lazy to pull it. We have prioritized other activities over pruning.”
And there it was—a lesson revealed to my heart through prayer and one severely overgrown weed.
It’s not like I couldn’t see the weed growing. I probably gazed out that window hundreds of times and simply chose to overlook something that did not belong. I could have chosen to walk outside when this weed was in a much younger stage of development and pulled it. Instead, I just ignored the weed and let it grow out of control.
This is how sinful habits grow in our lives. Often they start out as a tiny sprout. Visible to our eyes and heart, but not enough to make us want to do something about it. Thoughts and behaviors that should be plucked out when they are small, but instead our laziness or indifference allows them to remain and grow. Until one day, what started out as a little thing, intensifies and overtakes a space in our lives that should have been dedicated to producing fruit of the Spirit.
Some of us are terrible at physical gardening (I can’t be the only one!), but thankfully we all have a spiritual Gardner who helps us with cutting back and cleaning up.
Look at the words of Jesus: “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” (John 15:1-2 NLT)
Jesus is the vine. God is the gardener. People are the branches.
Some branches do not produce fruit—unbelievers or fake followers—who are separated and cut off from the Lord’s life-giving power. Other branches bear fruit—true believers—who remain attached to the vine. Although Christians are connected to Christ, they still require pruning power from God.
Pruning is a necessary action to help snip the sinful choices from our lives. In order to promote healthy spiritual growth, habits or decisions that are not glorifying to God need to be cut out. Only by remaining in a healthy relationship with the Lord can a person be strengthened in faith and develop godly character. This is how we produce fruit . . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Can you recognize the overgrown weeds that require plucking—the spiritual pruning that needs to take place in your life? Will you ask your Heavenly Gardner to help you?