A few days ago, I spent about two hours pulling weeds in a shrub bed. I had been putting it off for a few weeks because it wasn’t a priority in my life. It wasn’t a priority in my life because I genuinely dislike “weeding.” It was the fourth time this year that I was “weeding” this particular shrub bed. As I dug into the dirt and tried to pull out the roots of every weed, I found myself enjoying it for the first time. Why is that? I thought to myself. I think it is because my mind was making the connection of weeds and the spiritual life. As I was pulling up weed after weed, I spent that time thinking about how pulling weeds can really relate to our everyday lives.
As far as I know, weeds are bad. I think most of us would agree with that. Weeds are an unwelcome sight in our shrub beds for at least two main reasons:
Weeds clutter up the area intended to be attractive and creates an eyesore instead.
Weeds steal the nutrients from the good plants like flowers and vegetables.
In the same way, when we allow the “weeds of life” to take over our bodies, minds and hearts, the weeds deplete us of the spiritual energy we need and can eventually make our lives an ugly mess. So, what are the weeds in our human lives? Here are a few of them. They should come as no surprise, and yet these kinds of weeds have a way of sneaking into the most sacred parts of our lives (i.e. heart), and before we know it, the weeds have overtaken that which was once well-kept and pure looking.
Weed #1: The bad relationship. Certain people can suck the life out of you. If you have someone in your life right now that does that, you know exactly what I am talking about. Whenever you walk away from them, you feel like taking a nap. You are emotionally depleted. Life is too short to seek community with someone who selfishly makes you feel belittled whenever you have a conversation with them. There are times when you need to say goodbye to certain people this side of heaven and move on with your life. That sounds extreme, but bad relationships can destroy your life. Maybe they will change. Maybe they will become a wonderful person in a few years, but that doesn’t mean that you should be their emotional punching bag until they have everything figured out. In fact, maybe people like this need to lose a few friendships before they will take their actions seriously.
Weed #2: The sin that keeps coming back. You know that the sin you are engaging in is wrong. You get rid of it for a time and you feel good about how you are now pure before God, but then you give into the temptation again and you find yourself immersed in the sin once again. The vicious cycle continues on. One of the main reasons why many Christians return to a past sin is because they have not taken out the root system of the sin. The only way to truly rid yourself of a nagging sin is to tear out the roots. This might mean eliminating from your weekly routine a place you frequent. It might mean breaking off a relationship. Grab that weed and dig deep into that dirt and pull out every little bit of the roots. If not, it will continue to come back.
Weed #3: Busyness without purpose. Personally, I believe that this is one of Satan’s main strategies to distance us from God in our culture. I believe that the Devil trains his demons to convince humans that life is only enjoyed in the hectic pace in which we find ourselves. Always doing something, but never quite focused on accomplishing that which is truly important. You might be covered in so many weeds that you can’t even see what direction you are supposed to be going. One of the best ways to correct this is to say “No” to things that you thought were necessary. You will be surprised at how rewarding a night with your family for several hours can be compared to just filling it with some school, sport, musical, or church activity. When is the last time you have said, “Wow, this is a beautiful day,” and you proceed to cancel a formal evening activity and instead spent that time with loved ones outside doing something that was memorable?
Weed #4: Complaining spirit. Sure, this could be categorized under weed #2 as sin, but I have noticed that irritable and grouchy people suck so much life out of themselves and others that it deserves its own weed. In many ways, it is the most poisonous weed. How can you correct yourself from falling into the habit of grumbling? Replace the weeds with flowers of gratitude. Be thankful. Focus on that which is good, instead of concentrating on that which is bad. Bad stuff happens, and there are times when complaining enters a conversation, but before it overwhelms your life, fill your heart and mouth with words of grace. A complaining spirit will ruin your garden. You might work really hard at producing the right vegetables, but as long as you allow that prickly spirit into your garden (i.e. heart), you will never produce an award winning garden that you can proudly show the neighbors.
I am sure there are more weeds than these four. But they are the four which came to mind as I was “weeding” the shrub bed. When I was finished after two hours of digging in the dirt, the shrub bed was beautiful. It looked so clean. You could now focus on the shrubs instead of the weeds. It was worth it to see how nice it now looked. In the same way, when you work hard to eliminate certain weeds from your personal life, you will find that it is worth it. You will be able to look at your heart and it will bring joy back into your life. Do you need to do some weeding today?