For the most part, I was careful to water my garden and pull the weeds. I even built a scarecrow to frighten away annoying birds!
However, my initial enthusiasm for gardening began to wane. Trips to the beach, bicycling with a friend; all became more pleasant than the care of my garden. As a result, some seeds never came up. Others that had burst forth from the ground with great expectation were choked to death by the weeds I had failed to pull. Although I did enjoy some of the produce pictured on the seed packets, I harvested far less than I planted.
The Christian life is much like gardening.
“A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, or grapes picked from a bramble bush. A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” Luke 6: 43-45 (HCS)
Just as my garden did not spring up magically overnight, the good fruit in a believer’s life does not either. My garden needed careful planting and cultivation in order for the seed to produce fruit; so too does the heart and life of every believer.
If we plant and nuture good seeds, we will reap good fruit. If we plant and nurture dead seeds, we will reap death. It is the “reaping what you sow” principle!
How do we plant good seeds?
Good seeds are not something we can find on our own. They come only from having the Chief Gardener in our heart – the Holy Spirit.
Jesus called Him, Parakletos, a Greek name meaning counsellor, guide, comforter, and the one who comes alongside. Upon salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells us. He is the very real presence of God in our lives.
However, instead of allowing Him to lead and guide, we drag Him around with us from one decision to another, through one bad day after another, without giving Him much thought. We never ask for His opinion. Instead, we treat Him like a house guest we’ve invited to live with us, but do not allow to leave the guest room.
He is in our hearts but NOT in our lives.
Being the perfect guest, the Holy Spirit will not barge in or force His way into the areas He has not been invited. He will stay at the door waiting for OUR invitation to gain access to all our other rooms, closets, and secret places. The paradox is, until we give Him that access, we will never live the abundant life promised to us as believers.
To sow good fruit, we must first agree to let our Paracletos take control. We must allow Him to be our counsellor, to come alongside us in our everyday lives. We need to stop and ask HIM what our next move, mood or word is to be, and then step with Him. Then, and only then, will we be walking in the spirit – a walk that will produce, in us, good fruit (Gal 5:22 -25).
When I start displaying sour grapes in my life (temper, impatience with my kids, wrong attitudes) instead of the fruit of the spirit, I know that I need to do some gardening. What is inside can’t help but display itself in one’s actions (Luke 6:45b).
How is your garden growing?
Is there a weed of sin choking your fruit? When was the last time you watered your garden with the WORD? Are there some dead branches in need of pruning?
However, if we, with the Chief Gardener’s help, daily watch for and remove all weeds and dead branches, then water with the WORD and fertilize with prayer and fellowship, we will end up with a spiritual garden that will produce healthy fruit. Our ministry is to be one of character. What we are is more important than anything we will ever do or say!
Jesus makes it clear that there are only two types of trees – a good tree producing healthy fruit or a bad tree producing rotten fruit.
How is your spiritual garden growing today? Are you producing sour grapes or sweet, lush fruit?