All gardeners know the problem. They spend long hours getting the conditions right for their plants to thrive. They cultivate the soil, plant in the right season, see to the proper fertilizer, and water if necessary—their intended crops, whether vegetables or flowers, soon sprout. But along with the desired plants come some undesirable weeds. What is true in the garden is also true in our walk with Jesus.
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus identified the weeds as the “worries of this life and the lure of wealth.” (Matthew 13:22b, NLT) One way or another, these weeds produce another kind of fruit called sin. From a purely legalistic perspective, guilt is accounted whenever a law is broken. Those “laws” could be governmental statutes or unwritten societal expectations. The Bible, however, defines sin a bit differently.
While the Bible does provide plenty of law-like proscriptions, especially in the Law of Moses portions, Jesus summed up God’s law with two commands. Love God with everything you are and love your neighbor (see Matthew 22:36-40). The Apostle Paul, in a response intended to settle a controversy concerning what is lawful to eat, concluded, “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23, NASB95) So instead of lengthy volumes of law, sin can be described this way: Sin is anything that lessens our love for God or our love for one another and is not from our faith in Christ. But here’s the good news – Jesus forgives sin!
Back to the garden. The gardener knows that for their crops to do well, they must pull the weeds. It’s not fun, and the labor has no immediate fruit. Many folks have started gardening but gave up when it comes to weeding. The mistake folks often make is weeding only when the weeds seem to be taking over. But the wise gardener knows it’s much easier to weed frequently to catch the weeds while small. Likewise, if we consider the weeds of sin in our hearts only after they’ve crowded out our faith, we’ll have a tough slog on our hands. But if we are frequently asking the Holy Spirit to show us our weeds, our sins, then our weeding is easier.
Jesus paid for our forgiveness on the cross. That is the good news of the Bible. Where our sin kept us from God, Jesus made the way for us to be forgiven and reconciled with God. When the Holy Spirit convicts our heart, when He shows us a weed, we pull the weed by turning from it (repentance), agreeing with God that it is a sin, and asking for His forgiveness which God joyfully gives.
It may seem that all we do is pull weeds. And some have gotten so caught up in weed pulling that they’ve forgotten the reason. The goal is not to see who can pull the most weeds but to grow the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22). To weed out our sin, we must be honest with ourselves, we must rely on the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and we must have faith in the mercy of a loving God. Do that often, and the harvest of your walk with Jesus will overflow.