Tuesday, July 17, 2012


            Recently we had work done on our septic system. We were relieved to finally correct a persistent problem with the system, but it left us with a large area of bare dirt in our front lawn. The people who did the repairs graciously provided some topsoil to cover the clay that had been dug up. We soon discovered that this gracious act had a down side. The top soil was full of weeds.

            We have been experiencing an extended dry period this summer. There has not been any significant rain for a number of weeks, so our grass is dry and brown. The only exception is the area that had been dug up around the septic tank. It was covered with lush, green vegetation, all of it weeds.

            The other day my wife, daughter and I went out and began pulling the weeds. I was amazed at how large and healthy they looked, even as my grass is withering under the unrelenting sun. It took us several hours, down on our hands and knees, to clear away the offending vegetation. As I grabbed handfuls of large, well-developed weeds, I saw that there were many smaller weeds emerging in the relative protection of the larger plants. Pulling the large plants revealed these smaller interlopers.

            My weed-pulling experience reminded me of some spiritual truths about the “weeds” in our lives. Most of us struggle to do what is right, yet we find it hard to cultivate these positive qualities. Sin seems to flourish, especially under difficult circumstances. It easily takes root and takes over, without any real effort on our part. On the other hand, the godly qualities we long to see flourish seem to struggle to stay alive. We have to constantly be cultivating them or they disappear.

            Paul talked about this struggle in Romans 7:14-21. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

            All of us can identify with Paul in this struggle. In our hearts, we desire to follow Christ fully, but in practice we often follow a different path. Praise God, we are not alone in this struggle. God has given us the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and give us victory over sin.

            As we battle the obvious sin in our lives, we discover another reality. The “large”, obvious sins often hide, and even foster, more subtle, less obvious sins.  Just like the large weeds gave shade to smaller weeds and allowed them to get established, so obvious sins create an atmosphere where other sins can grow. I have discovered that, once I have dealt a particular sin, I discover something lurking underneath it. If these are left, they will take root and grow into larger affairs. Weeds tend to have extensive root systems. If allowed to get well established, they become much harder to get rid of. The best thing to do is to deal with them when they are small.

            Most of us are guilty of overlooking the small sins in our lives. When we do, we set ourselves up for a bigger struggle later. It is best to deal with them as soon as we are aware of their presence. John reminds us that dealing with sin is a constant, on-going battle. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1:8-10 (NIV)

            Today, I looked out at a clean patch of dirt in my front lawn. It felt great to have the weeds gone. But I know that it won’t be long and they will be back. The sooner I can replace them with strong healthy grass the better. The same is true with my life. It feels great when I win a battle with some temptation, but I know that the war is not over. My best defense against spiritual weeds is to cultivate strong, godly qualities in my life, and to be diligent about rooting out those pesky “weeds” when I see them.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

No comments:

Post a Comment