Maybe you've experienced the hope of planting a new garden or lawn. You had a snapshot in your mind of what it would look like—high expectations of vegetable-laden plants or of your neighbor looking enviously at your Better Homes and Gardens lawn. And possibly you've felt your back ache from weeding that plot of turf. Sweating profusely, you wondered if it was worth it.
You found that good gardens and thick, carpet-like lawns don't grow naturally. Weeds do. I wish it weren't so at times, but I've got to pull some weeds and plant some good seeds in order to see fruit harvested later.
Pulling weeds and planting seeds. It's the story of life. We are individual lots on which either weeds of selfishness or the fruit of the Holy Spirit grow and flourish. Jesus warned that the soil of our hearts is the most valuable acreage on planet earth. It is from this chunk of living terra firma that we uproot weeds, plant good seeds, grow, and harvest fruit for all to see.
In Mark 4, Jesus taught the parable of the soils to His disciples. Christ said spiritual fruitfulness or barrenness depended upon the type of soil that received the seed of God's Word.
Jesus warned of the choking influence of thorns—three kinds of pesky, prickly weeds that squeeze the life out of fruit-producing seedlings.
The first weed Jesus warned of is the worries of the world, the anxieties of this age. Worry or anxiety means "to be drawn in different directions" or "to be distracted."
What distracts you? What pulls you in a direction you know is unfruitful? For me it can be busyness. A full schedule of good things that crowds out the best—like time in the morning spent in prayer and the Scripture. I can be distracted by urgent things which could be put off for just a few minutes.
Some people are distracted and worried about what others think about them, preoccupied with pleasing men and gaining their approval. Still others are pulled by their insecurities, trying to find significance in achieving and performing. I wish I could sever the taproot of this weed of distraction and be rid of it forever!
The second weed Jesus spoke of is the deceitfulness of riches. Maybe you're thinking, Hey, I'd rather take my chances with handling riches and whatever deceit comes with it than be poor! Wealth isn't so bad.
I have walked through the streets of Beijing, China, where the average monthly salary is $30—even for surgeons. I have visited Macau, a Portuguese gambling community filled with its destitute thousands. And back in the States, I have seen places, like Harlem, where poverty and desperation are no strangers. In all of those oppressive situations there was a pervading despair—a hopelessness without Jesus Christ. People were merely existing.
When I arrived home, I couldn't help but notice how clean our suburban neighborhoods appeared, how prosperous it all seemed. And it hit me: People here are just as lost as those in China and Harlem and they just don't know it. It's just that the veneer of our prosperity disguises the hopelessness beneath it.
The hopelessness in Harlem isn't veiled by prosperity—you can feel it. I couldn't feel the hopelessness in my nice, clean suburb of Little Rock, but I should have.
Wealth is a deceptive weed that takes over our lives and chokes out our responsiveness to God. When we are in its grip, we spend our lives playing it safe and risking very little for Jesus Christ. The following question will help you measure the deceit of wealth in your life: Would you be willing to give up the safety of your job and salary and invest your life in full-time vocational ministry? If you wouldn't, then you may need to pull some weeds of deception. I've found that I don't have to be in the Forbes 400 to be rich or deceived. Americans are wealthy by world standards.
Beware of prosperous times—they can be deadly, numbing the heart's response to God's direction for our lives.
The third weed that we find hindering fruitfulness in our lives is the desire for other things. Here we find the weed of a passionate desire or a craving. Some of these weeds are easily spotted, like sexual lust, an addiction to pornography, or perversions. But other cravings aren't so easily identifiable: food, clothing, jewelry, car, job, salary, a hobby or sport, or even the location or kind of house we live in. Any desire that drives us, controls our thinking, or preoccupies our minds can be a weed that hinders growth in our lives.
One good way to spot this weed is to check your conversations: What are you most excited about? What do you talk with others about? What preoccupies your thoughts daily? Is it something honorable?
Preparing for a maximum yield
I guess what scares me about all these weeds is their potential for multiplication.
When I was a kid I used to take great delight in breaking off the stem of a dandelion that held a cluster of seeds. A stiff breeze or a puff or breath would instantly launch a jillion of those tiny, angel-hair parachutes. Now as I fight the spread of these wind-born warriors, I can't help but wonder how many dandelions there are in just one of those dandelion seed-balls. Letting just one weed grow freely in your life could result in a crop failure.
A friend of mine who grows popcorn once told me that weeds left unattended can cut the harvest by as much as 40 to 60 percent. As I consider the consequences in my life of the "harvest hinderers," I know that I need to get serious about pulling, poisoning, and plowing under those destructive weeds.
I wish I had some high-powered nuclear herbicide to help you instantly eradicate weeds from your life. The reality is that all soil has weed seeds. Lives do too. What you and I need is a personal visit from the Master Gardener and His hoe.
Do you want Him to visit your garden? Why not ask Him to come right now? Ask Him to do some fresh cultivation in the soil of your heart.
Copyright © 2006 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.