This past Saturday found Mark and I back outside working in our garden. After spending so much time clearing out the leaves, weeds, and thorns from the garden last week I looked at the fence that surrounds the garden and realized so many weeds were growing against it and were creeping under it.
I realized if I tended the perimeter around the outside of the garden fence it would guard against the weeds that were creeping into the garden.
So, I decided the easiest way to do war against those destructive weeds and thorns was to cut away all the dead growth that remained after the winter, and put down black plastic. Black plastic is proved to kill anything it covers! So now, several feet of black plastic held down with rocks lines the perimeter of our garden.
Black plastic is my answer to guard my garden!
The success or failure of my garden hinges on how well it is guarded.
And so as I wrote last week of the importance of ridding my heart of the things that grew because of neglect during the “winters” of life, I also find there are weeds, and thorns that are constantly trying to creep through the fence and into my heart.
This reminds me of the verse…
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23
How do I guard my heart?
In keeping with the analogy of my garden, I need black plastic to put to death those weeds that are creeping into my heart.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.” Romans 8:12-13
As weeds will creep in and kill my garden plants, the deeds of my sinful nature will steal, kill and destroy me as well.
The success or failure of my life hinges on how well I guard my heart!
The condition of my heart determines the course of my life!
And when I choose to put to death the deeds of my sinful nature, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I will live!
And so, the power of the Holy Spirit, is to my heart as black plastic is to my garden.
To guard my heart is to spend time with God each day. As I read God’s word the Holy Spirit shines His Light of truth into my heart to show me any weed that needs to be pulled. Weeds that creep under the fence are’t seen right away as their roots travel undetected under the soil. I guess that’s why one day my garden is weed free, and just several days later its full of weeds!
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12
The Holy Spirit uses God’s truth to be like a spade that exposes and digs out the deeds of our sinful nature. Often our natural responses to situations don’t seem like the destructive weeds that they are. Left to ourselves we won’t see the weeds creeping under the fence. We won’t see them spreading under the soil, but one day they spring up and we realize they have been choking the life out of us.
Like when I have a conversation with my daughter and bring up a list of things that she has done wrong, and the next morning I read 1 Corinthians 13 that describes what love is; that it doesn’t keep a record of being wronged, I can pull that weed. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit that convicts me. I realize that even though I meant it to prove my point, to choose God’s way of love is the better way. I can confess my sin, ask God’s forgiveness, and pray that God will fill my heart with His love for her.
Or when I’m doing my Bible study and I read, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged,” and the Holy Spirit brings to mind someone I have judged in my heart, I can pull that weed. I thank God for showing me my sin and confess the judgement I made against that person, and ask His forgiveness. In response I can pray a prayer of blessing for that person.
By guarding my garden from weeds it keeps the plants free of all that robs them of what they need to be strong and healthy.
Then they will produce a good harvest!
By guarding my heart from the deeds of my sinful nature it frees me of all that robs me of what I need to be spiritually strong and healthy.
Then I will produce a good harvest!