If we want to grow, we are going to have to be willing to get our hands dirty, there’s no question about it. And it IS the will of God that we grow in Him and draw closer to Him. In fact, He wants for us to utterly flourish!
“Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will
produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to
know God better and better.” Colossians 1:10 NLT
What is something that stunts growth quite rapidly? Sin we don’t bother to confess. The stuff we just leave alone – avoid bringing to God, friends. Yah…that sin.
It’s so crucial for me to be constantly watchful of how sin tends to slink it’s way right into my heart and life. I try to remain ever-vigilant about the obvious temptations – watching my mouth, trying to take an approach of service towards others (versus selfishness) , being honest about my intentions and motivations with myself and with God, avoiding laziness and coveting, focusing on being loving to others, and lots of other things. And I fail sometimes – too often, in fact.
But then there are also the less-than-obvious things in life that allow sin to creep up on us, aren’t there? As always, there are new weeds of sin just ready and lingering- waiting in the shadows for just the right time to plant themselves firmly in the garden of our hearts, prevent new growth, and attempt to overtake that which is already blooming there.
Weeds are mean. They are ugly. They breed and spread their baby seeds everywhere with the sole intention of smothering any and every thing that might be in the way. They like to choke, cut off, and squash out love and life, while they take on far-reaching lives of their own. They are resistant, resilient, and just plain stubborn!
And leaving them alone is not an option either. Very little will stop weeds in their tracks if they are left to their own devices.
Weeds are savvy too – they are survivors by nature. We have to outwit them and work hard at killing them. More often than not we can’t do this on our own and we have to call upon experts to help us. Then we end up wishing we had just done that in the first place.
So it is with God and the temptations we struggle with in life – we may be saved by grace, but we still sin and have to be on guard with Him as our lead commander in the war against the flesh. To do so, we need to rely upon Him to expel the weeds of sin in our lives; and we need to partner actively with Him in that endeavor.
A big reason for this is that no matter how intently we seek to stay away from sin, if we try to do so apart from God and in our own ability, sin weeds will eventually win out. Weeds are driven by the motivation of prevailing as top dogs, and in all honestly, in the fleshly realm, the physical realm, they often do “win.” They tend to be stronger than all the rest. Their goal is to utterly dominate – seek and destroy – KILL anything in their path; and to have no mercy in the process whatsoever.
I told you…weeds are mean. And they are ugly. Especially sin weeds.
But the truth is, that those suckers are fallible. They want us to think that they have already won once they rear their ugly little heads, but that is a lie. They CAN be conquered!
I found a new weed in the garden a few months ago. I realized that even though I don’t have any outwardly visible barriers between myself and a particular person for the world to see right now, that there was still a nice-sized weed creeping into my heart in relation to that certain someone. And I hadn’t even really noticed it. Actually, I guess that I had noticed it, but I didn’t recognize it for the weed of sin that it was. I justified it not as “sin” in my life because it had come through something that the other person did to me.
See what I mean? Weeds are creepy.
This person had hurt my feelings – more than once, but probably not even intentionally. They aren’t someone that I interact a lot with in my world, so why give it a whole lot of energy? I just decided when I first started feeling bitter towards them that I should set it aside -just let it go.
But I forgot one very important thing: To confess my own sin in the matter to the Lord. How can I continue to forget this stuff? It just blows me away how dense and deceived I am sometimes.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and
purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NIV
Friends, I hadn’t let it go. I hadn’t repented of all the ugliness that I had allowed to invade my heart in relation to this person. I hadn’t even seen it, yet somehow, I knew it was there – no excuses! I had swept it under the rug under the guise of “letting it go.”
Then, when I knew without question that it was there, I chose to ignore it. And not only did I choose not to confess or open my eyes to my own role in the matter, I certainly hadn’t even thought about forgiveness!
And so it grew………………….
“I can’t believe that ___________ would do that to me. I have never asked them for anything before. Why can’t I get some support from them for once? Don’t they even care?”
And it spread…………………………
“__________ must just be absorbed with themselves right now. I should be okay with that, but if I really look deep down inside, I just can’t move past thinking that they really do come across as selfish, self-centered, and non-caring. How hypocritical of them! They are so all about just themselves!”
And it choked…………………..
“I don’t want to be nice to ___________ the next time I see them. But I have to. I wish I could show love to them, but isn’t that kind of hypocritical of ME? I mean, they are the one who caused ME to feel bad. It is due to their selfishness that I feel this way, not mine.”
And it snuffs out beauty. Smashes love………………..
“Yah…I still feel bitter, but I am working on forgiving. It’s a process. I think I just won’t be mean, but I won’t be overly nice either the next time I interact with them. Should I think twice about being overly supportive and investing any time and energy into them the next time they need me? No, that’s the flesh talking. But I still feel bitter and resentful toward them in my heart. I hope I can get better about this. This is really bad. Gosh, I am a really bad person – this is not very Christ-like of me………..”
And on and on and on the enemy goes in the feeble mind and heart of Annie B.
Ug. I greatly abhor the enemy.
But I love my Lord and Savior!!!!!!!! He saves me from the enemy, and He saves me from myself. He saves me from the weeds, and He yanks them outta there roots and all! Then He fills me up with this wonderful thing….this thing called love. And this other thing….this thing called forgiveness.
The fact is, we are called to forgive as Christ forgives us. We are commanded to love others the way that He loves us. We are asked directly by the Lord Himself to come to Him to help us to purge sin out of our lives (through HIS power, and our willingness to obey), repent of it, and keep the garden healthy and growing. We have to ask Him to do it in us – He is the weed expert! He is the exterminator, the weed killer, the gardener, the gate keeper, the powerful one who knows what it is to conquer, and knows just how to do it!
Waiting to forgive until I feel like it or because it’s a “process” is a bunch of trash! Working through feelings may be a process, working through repairing damage may be one too, but we can forgive right away with God’s help – and He asks us to.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one
another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
Our pastor shared with us not too long ago that he thinks truly being able to forgive as Christ forgave us will sometimes involve the commitment to cry out to the Lord for His power along with a realization that sometimes forgiveness is on a kind-of daily continuum on our part. This is especially true when someone continues to do something over and over again, or something has happened that continues to have lasting ramifications that renew and show up day to day.
New bitter weeds can spring up even when the primary offender seems to have been yanked out of the ground (uh-hem…..heart).
I have asked the Lord to forgive me, but to also help me to forgive this person….completely. But I realize that I will have to go to my Savior in prayer every day – over and over again to ask for Him to help me remove any residual bitter seeds that remain. Why? Because the sin weed in relation to this situation may have already sprouted little babies into the air that just haven’t landed on the dirt and taken root quite yet.
And because my heart is not as it should be.
I wake up every day and there is a new chance for sin to enter or re-enter my life. But Gods grace, mercy and His compassion….. they are new every day – and we must remember to turn to Him for it.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV
I have no excuse. I am guilty of not watching for the weeds in this area with this person. I am also guilty of excusing myself when I did see them show up. And finally, I am guilty of turning to myself instead of to my Savior for help.
I took for granted the fact that the flowers are still flourishing and looking beautiful and smelling good. I decided to do other things since they didn’t seem to need any water or attention for the moment. I didn’t neglect them completely, no not at all. I still enjoyed their beautiful colors and took time to gaze upon them. But I did forget to pay attention to the ugly invaders that were starting to grow. And that is my responsibility – to bring my sin to the Lord day by day.
We have to ask the Lord to give us clear vision to kick the enemy out of our hearts the moment a new growth of ugliness starts to appear. We then, by beseeching Him to equip us with HIS power, need to yank it out by the roots, burn it, and relegate it to the trash can that resides far, far away from the garden of growth in the Lord. And we need to take care of the garden every single day.
It is not my garden anyway, it is my Savior’s. It is not meant to be the playground of the devil, it is the realm of the Lord! The enemy will always try to sneak in and vandalize or destroy it, but he doesn’t belong there. And the true owner of this domain is quite territorial – as He should be!
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is
in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
God’s message to me is quite clear: Put on the reinforced gloves, keep your shovel handy, and get to work. Stop and smell the flowers along the way, enjoy the beauty of all that He has created, but never forget to treat that which is the Lord’s with tender loving care. And although we have been redeemed by Christ Jesus, we still live in this world – which is just filthy, any way you cut it. We may not live for it any longer, but we still reside within it – hence, the need to take care.
I shall dig down until my fingers bleed, if necessary. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty. Besides, I have the mighty hand of the Lord upon me – and He isn’t afraid to get HIS dirty either.
In fact, He still has the scars to prove it. And those scars mean something: OWNERSHIP.
“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands…..” Isaiah 49:16
I’m sure grateful that my Savior wasn’t afraid to get HIS hands dirty for me – He certainly went FAR beyond that for us, friends. And amazingly, His are the most pure, holy and lovely hands that we shall ever see!
Thanks be to God, we don’t have to relay any messages to the enemy to make sure that he knows who is the Ruler of All and Who will reign in power and glory for all eternity.
The message has already been sent for us…….
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” Matthew 6:13