I love to work in my gardens. There is something calming about the process… though the weeds drive me crazy.
Did you ever think of God as a Gardener?
Among the first things God created was a garden (Genesis 2:15). It was probably spectacular!
Not surprising, He compares our heart to a garden. He Himself is the gardener – 100% invested in the fruitfulness of our lives (Isaiah 58:11 ).
If you’ve ever worked a garden you’ve noticed this is universal truth:
We water the plants with the weeds.
I’ve been thinking about this as I look at the parable in Matthew 13:24-30.
I am a visual person. I work through spiritual or theoretical concepts by making a physical application. This one came to me while tending my strawberry patch.
I remember that the year I began this garden it was an early sprint. The process was involved and intentional:
- I tilled
- Pulled weeds
- Mixed in rich soil
- Spaced the mounds
- And Waited
The first year was all about tending the plant, pruning back the eager vines and fighting the weeds. It was easy to see the weeds the first year – anything new that sprouted was a weed.
As Fall came, I prepared the patch for a time of rest as the strawberries went dormant.
Spring brought understand of this parable.
The strawberries began sprouting, but so did the weeds.
Some weeds were easy to spot -they looked nothing like the strawberry plants. Other weeds look identical to the plants until they flowered.
I had to tend the entire patch – waiting for the plants to flower so I could pull the weeds. I killed many plants pulling weeds too early. The 2nd year I lost all but 4 strawberry hills… What did I learn?
My heart is God’s garden.
When I was saved, God began the intentional work of creating my hearts garden.
- He tilled my hard heart.
- He pulled the rocks and weeds – forgiving my sins.
- He gave the Holy Spirit to enable growth.
- He planted seeds of righteousness.
Do you remember the passion that came with those first years of salvation?
I was a 6 year old and wanted everyone to know my Jesus. I wanted to read the Word and know Him more and be in His house anytime I could. Then there came a season of rest from the initial passion.
Through that season, the ground became unyielding (Hosea 10:12-13). Weeds began to take root – mixed in with the Spiritual plants God had sown.
I sometimes forget that I have a very real enemy! He is often sowing seeds in the nighttime. It’s hard to tell that they are sinful desires as they begin sprout. Well, some of them are obviously sin… but others are subtle and look a lot like the plants God started.
How can we tell the difference between the weeds and the plants (Galatians 5: 16-25)?
- We have to be in the Word!
- We need time to listen to the Spirit through Prayer and silence.
- We must learn to cultivate the good things and deny ourselves the bad things.
But sometimes we have to wait until the plants begin to bear fruit.
The weeds will show themselves as “Deeds of the flesh”.
Reading this list it seems like obvious sin, but it often feels justified. If I’m honest, some weeds look good and “feel” good – so I am slow to pull them.
It isn’t until I see the real plants in full bloom that I see the weeds for what they really are. Seeing the delicious Fruits of the Spirit helps give me the courage to pull the weeds.
The Plants God began will show themselves as “Fruit of the Spirit”.
Those are the things that make life joyful, hope filled and abundant! Only when I saw the weeds choking the real plants… sapping the potential for abundant fruit…did I develop a desire to pull the weeds.
Back to the Parable –Matthew 13:30-43:
The world is also God’s garden.
God is cultivating a bigger garden filled with smaller gardens. Each smaller garden is in a different part of the process of growth.
Just as the enemy sows weeds in our personal hearts, he sows weeds into the body of Christ. The problem is we can’t tell which are the plants and which are the weeds while we are in the process.
I notice something shocking in this parable. Jesus didn’t give people the job of pulling the weeds. He didn’t even ask us to point them out.
I probably looked like a weed during my youth.
The lesson from One Gardener to another…
- Be patient with the process; Gardens take time, love, and perseverance.
- Sometimes we mistake the plants for weeds… don’t judge others – it’s not my job.
- If we rush the process we could pull out early sprouts… be patient with others – they are working on things in God’s time not mine.
- We could damage the plants in our haste… give everyone the grace I give myself – the grace God gives me.
- We often create an environment that is toxic and fearful for young sprouts to grow and thrive… be authentic with others and love others when they are authentic -even if it’s messy.
Are there weeds in your hearts garden?
- Be patient with yourself in the process and stay in the Spirit.
- The One True Gardener will work it out in His loving way and in His loving Time.
- Don’t give up on yourself – God never fails!
Do you see weeds in your church?
- Be patient with others and walk in the Spirit.
- Forgive easily and do not be easily offended -it’s rarely intentional hurtfulness.
- It is not our job to pull the weeds or prune.
- Our job is to grow and love others (and yes I realized that is an over simplification)
When we water the whole garden we create a safe place for new plants to grow and produce fruit.
Wen we leave the weeding to God it creates a safe place for believers to grow… without getting hurt by plants that think they are gardeners.
Both New and Mature Believers need safe space to grow. We don’t for fear of other believers seeing our mess while we get fixed up… in this humble gardeners opinion.