I know a family who planned a huge garden this past spring. And, they labored a full day to plant their many vegetables. But, as the summer wore on, they did not take the time to till, hoe, weed. They did, however, take a simple approach to getting rid of pests which amounted to spraying pesticides on their produce. A few months ago, they were talking about all the goodies they would be getting soon - and even offered to share with my family. I thought that sounded wonderful, since my garden was not as large as I had hoped (yet, bigger than I could manage).
Fast forward to a few weeks ago... This other family had a full-grown garden. That is, fully over-grown with weeds and grass. They had no produce at all. None. So, they called it a loss and tilled the whole thing under.
What is the moral of this story:
Gardening practices aside - what does this tell us about our spiritual life?
A lot of people go into churches every week and go forward to "get saved." They say a prayer and/or sign a card and they are considered "new Christians." Some of these new "Christians" are like my friends in the story above. They have lofty hopes of doing good deeds. They want to imrpove their family lives. They want to be released from the bondage of alcoholism (or some other vice).
These are not bad desires... but, they are not the same as becoming a Christian.
A few weeks go by, and things go really well. They attend church meetings. They stop watching R-rated movies. And make some other changes that were suggested by the pastor.
After a few more weeks/months things get tougher. It turns out that the Christian life takes a lot of work. Many so-called "new Christians" will let their gardens go. They do not necessarily think "I choose to spend my time being worldly, rather than growing spiritual fruit." But, nonetheless, they spend less time cultivating the fruit of the spirit...and more time sowing in the flesh. Perhaps they did not mean to get back into all their old habits, but things got out of hand in a hurry.
It happened like this - they knew there were some sins that were not dealt with completely (bitter roots), and they decided that they had done all they could for now. Those bitter roots turned into great difficulty and sucked nutrients away from the produce of their spiritual garden. And, when they saw that weed (sin) beginning to grow, they did not pluck it out at first, but decided to see how it would grow. Before they knew it, the sins grew, seeded, and spread to become out of control!
Their garden (their walk with God) was looking so pathetic that they decided to call the whole thing off. I believe that men/women who take this step of tilling their garden under (running headlong away from God and back to sin) were not ever truly coverted.
BUT, THERE'S HOPE! The story does not have to end that way!
A garden can be salvaged! The weeds (sins) might seem out of control, but you can get down on your knees (pray) and weed them out (ask for forgiveness) one by one until you can find your plants (spiritual fruit) again! Organic matter (Bible reading, fellowship, worship) can be added to the ground (your soul) to build it up and make it more fruitful. There will be some immediate differences! You will be able to see you plants (love, joy, peace, patience, etc) again. But, it may be another year before these fruits can truly multiply (in another "season" of life). But, do not dismay! There is hope!
Friend, if you have been "backsliding" in your walk... if you have been letting your spiritual garden grow - it is not too late to change it! Repent of your sins today! Ask God, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to empower you to live a fruitful life! And, keep looking to the Lord!
If you are alive - there is still time to change!