An Abundant Christian Life Requires Hard Work
A few years ago we planted a garden in our front yard. We took up a portion of the lawn and dug up the grass. We then planted seeds and bulbs with the hope that flowers would grow. We had great intentions for that section of our property. It would be an area of beauty for us and everyone who passed by. Yet, on their own, our good motivation means very little. It would take lots of labor to make sure that the seeds we planted grew into beautiful flowers. We did not make the flowers themselves and we could never force them to grow. Yet, if we did not tend the garden faithfully, all we would end up with is weeds. God’s raw materials combined with our persistant faithfulness could make a wonderful result.
So after planting we did not just sit back, watch and wait for flowers to pop out of the ground. We needed to water, tend and feed the plants. To see growth from tiny little seeds to the beautiful mature flowers God intended required our regular intentional hard work. In order for a garden to flourish it needs care and planning.
The Reward is Worth the Discipline
Those who garden are familiar with the weeding, cultivating and protecting of the plants involved. It can involve pain but is worth it. My back is aching as I type this from the memory. But if we just stand still and let the garden go on its own, it is the weeds that benefit. The good things always suffer from neglect. Day lillies don’t spread naturally but poison ivy takes over everything if left unchecked. Standing still in the garden is an invitation for disaster.
When we were diligent with tending to the front garden that we planted, God provided beautiful colors and shapes for our joy and pleasure. When life got a bit hectic and we fell behind, weeds suddenly flourished and began to squeeze the life out of the flowers.
The Christian life is very similar. We are either going forward and growing or sliding backwards. We are headed toward the production of fruit of the Spirit in our lives or being threatened with being overtaken by weeds. There is no middle ground possible. An apathetic Christian is by definition sliding away from growth.
Jesus said that He came to give us life abundantly. Our lives are meant to be luxurios gardens showcasing the glory of God. Through grace, He provides to us awesome things we could never earn. Yet, Jesus never said it would not take work on our part. The Bible is filled with examples of people working tremendously hard for Jesus. He is the one that gives us the seed, makes the sunshine and makes the flowers grow. Without Him no amount of work would matter. But we are charged with doing the simple things that help the growth along and prevent the weeds from taking over. Drive and discipline are essential in bringing those gifts of grace to the surface and have them bloom all over our lives.
Just like with a garden, planting, tending and protecting our walk is necessary to allow beautiful fruit to grow and flourish. Distractions from the world can very easily allow ivy and weeds to strangle it out.
Do the First Things First
People make the Christian walk more complicated than it needs to be. How do we tend our spiritial garden? Read your Bible, pray everyday is the direction from the children’s song you probably have heard. It is profound in its simplicity. What happens when we do this? We grow, grow, grow. It is just as true for us as it is for our little ones. If we only do this, our spiritual garden will start to take off. If we really want to be the attraction for the neighborhood, we can add in quiet time, listening to sermons and seeking out discipleship. These are the simple steps of those who want to be like the Master Gardener.
So take time today to do your tending. Plan out your time with the Lord in worship, prayer, and Bible reading. Then follow the plan. Pull out any weeds that have crept in before they get hard to deal with. Feed your soul with the Word.
Then watch as the Lord causes beauty, colors and wonderful fruit in our lives. Life abundantly! Doesn’t it sound wonderful!