We recently spent some time working at our new house. Sometimes dreams look like work, y'all. And our little dream house requires a lot of it. We're making progress, slowly but surely.
While we were there, we decided to tackle the garden. A little strawberry patch was in dire need of some care.
Luckily, I had handsome helpers or I would have been there all day! Even with help, the job took most of the morning.
As we were getting dirty and pulling weeds, I started thinking about the nature of weeds. And the truth is, weeds don't just exist in our gardens, they also exist in our hearts.
So I wanted to share some more comparisons between the weeds in our gardens and the sin in our hearts.
1. Sometimes, they don't look so bad
Sometimes, weeds can look a lot like flowers. My boys love to pick me weeds, aka "flowers," and I proudly add them to my vintage vase, and we enjoy them.
But, they are still weeds. And in our strawberry patch, they are just as destructive as any other type of weed. These weeds-disguised-as-flowers are destructive in our hearts as well. In fact, sometimes we need to guard against this type of weed the most because they can sneak by unrecognized.
Sometimes those sinful thoughts and actions pop up in the most "innocent" of ways:
Venting/complaining about our spouse (or life in general).
Prayer requests that are really gossip in disguise.
Arguing with my spouse because "I'm right" or he should do this or that more often.
A small twinge of jealousy when someone else gets something we want.
The constant need for more - you were made for greatness after all.
Holding a grudge against someone for a wrong done to us - they did hurt us, after all.
Constant worry and doubting.
Being so busy (even working for Him) that we don't listen for His guidance.
Ignoring the need for Bible reading and prayer.
Feelings of entitlement.
Oftentimes, these are little things that the world tell us are no big deal. We make excuses and justify these thoughts and behaviors.
And instead of dealing with these seemingly small sins, we put them on display.
We brag about these and similar pet sins in the name of "keeping it real." We wouldn't want anyone to feel guilty, so we might as well claim it, embrace it, and celebrate it. But this is a dangerous attitude.
To play on the quote from Dr. Seuss, A sin is a sin, no matter how small.
2. Weeds are pervasive (and they don't require tending)
We don't have to plant or tend the weeds in order to get them there. They are just there. It's the natural state of things. And they grow and grow until they take over.
No one waters and fertilizes these weeds. All we have to do is leave them be.
Similarly, we don't have to cultivate sin in our lives. Bitterness, complaining, entitlement, laziness, and other bad habits, they are already there. Some people may struggle with certain sinful attitudes more than others, but no one is immune to them.
Just like weeds, they creep up on their own, without permission. All we have to do is let them go unattended.
Which is why those itty bitty sinful attitudes are anything but harmless. Even if they remained small, they would still be sin. But they don't stay small. When we see them as harmless, we ignore them until they take over.
3. Weeds are destructive
Weeds start out as just a little bitty shoot of a plant. Harmless, right? But if left alone long enough, they will grow until they can completely take over and choke out the plants you're actually trying to grow. And it really doesn't take as long as you might think! We saw it with our strawberry plants. The plants that were just fine a week and a half prior were now being choked out by weeds. In several cases, the roots were completely intertwined so that we couldn't save the strawberry plant. The weed smothered it and ruined its chances for growing.
Sin in our lives acts the same way. That itty bitty sin that seemed so harmless at first will grow. That seed of jealousy will become bitterness and discontentment that has it's root in sin, and can lead to other sins as well.
Cultivating the good stuff
There are things in our lives that we should be cultivating. And those, like the beautiful roses at our new house, don't come up on their own. It is not in our nature to be kind, gentle, faithful, or selfless.
Those good things have to be planted and tended. We need to plant them in good soil, be sure they are exposed to the right amount of sun, water them, prune them, fertilize them, protect them and weed them. The Bible often compares our spiritual lives to natural things. Our spiritual lives require the same types of hard work and diligence as gardening and farming.
We should be cultivating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You might recognize the fruits of the Spirit. We cannot have these attributes on our own without the help of the Holy Spirit. However, we need to do our part.
Because, friends, those things don't come naturally. We have to cultivate them. Plant them, water them, feed them with God's word, baby them.
We have to work at it.
And a big part of cultivating the good stuff is getting rid of the weeds. Whatever itty bitty sin you have in your life, nip it in the bud, right now. No excuses. No justifications.
Because when we view sin like God does, there are no small sins. Pluck it out by the root and don't leave anything behind.
Just as a final note, while we need to be sure we're feeding the right things in our lives, we cannot rid ourselves of sin. Only the power of Jesus Christ, the grace of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit can do that. You cannot earn your way into heaven and could never rid yourself of sin enough to satisfy the wrath of God. Only the saving work of Jesus Christ can do that. If you have not received His saving grace, I pray that you will seek His face. And don't stop until you have met with Him.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Serving Joyfully. It has been modified and republished here with permission.