My wife and I passed by a well-manicured garden the other day. We couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty and order of the landscaping. The flowers were lush. The edging was crisp. No weed could be seen. There was nothing haphazard about this yard.
Let's imagine for a moment that the owner of this particular flower garden relied solely on the occasional rainfall to feed the flowers. And what would that yard look like if effort were not given to pulling out all of the unwanted weeds? And consider the arrangement. What if priority were not given to the height, spread, and placement of the individual plants? As we appreciated the beauty of the flower bed, it was clear that it did not happen by accident. It takes effort, discipline, and patience to see this kind of maturity.
Maturity doesn’t happen accidentally. That is true in gardening and it is true with our spiritual lives. Unfortunately, we tend to approach our spiritual growth like an optimistic gardener who doesn’t get his hands dirty. We have high hopes and good intentions but lack the discipline required for healthy growth. God’s Word offers us guidance.
Philippians 2:12-13 instructs us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Don’t misunderstand Paul’s words. We don’t work for our salvation. Rather, we put forth effort to work out the salvation that Christ has worked for us. The order is important. God prompts. We respond. Spiritual growth happens when we cooperate with the initiatives of the Holy Spirit to become more like Christ. That cooperation takes some effort. It requires discipline. It means getting your hands dirty so to speak.
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Consider the “weeds” in your life. Are there thought patterns, behaviors, habits, or even relationships that are hindering the good growth God wants to bring out in your life? Ask God to reveal what needs to be uprooted. Pray for wisdom to understand and courage to respond. My hunch is you already know. There is often beauty waiting to be revealed once the unsightly weed is removed.
What about “watering” your soul? Are you purposefully and regularly feeding your soul what it needs to grow? Jesus taught us to “abide in him” in order to bear fruit (John 15:1-17). That means we are to stay connected to Christ. I want to urge to commit to a bible reading plan. Start with the Gospel of John or perhaps Proverbs. In addition to consistent bible reading, I encourage you to talk with God. Pray. Eyes open. Throughout your day. Walk with Him. Let His Word and Spirit bloom in your life.
Cooperate with God in what He is doing in your life. Lean into His grace put forth effort to your spiritual growth. A beautiful garden awaits.