Sunday, May 14, 2017

weeds which wither spirituality.

Jesus warned against weeds on a number of occasions in plain teaching and in parables. He spoke about their effect in Mark 4:18-19. In the parable of the four soils Jesus highlight the chocking qualities of unattended weeds. Weed seeds sown among those who hear the word are strangled in time by the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things. 

Weeds, the gardener’s curse, are symbolically a ‘death threat’ to the Word of God in the Christian’s life. There are books, conferences and media outlets stacked with ‘thorns and thistle’ seeds. Some are rather attractive to the undiscerning soul and are just waiting to be opened and planted. They are killers to righteousness, truth and relationships. Discerning Heaven's seeds in this World's vast array of alternatives requires the manual prepared by the Lord and Redeemer. In His parable of the four soils Jesus warned about the thorns that strangle His Word. Harbouring the ‘seeds of thorn or thistle’ because they promise much or are favoured by the community is deadly. Ultimately it renders the soul spiritually ineffective at best and strangled at worst.
Ungodly weeds grow so fast and can look so attractive. Their purpose however is to nullify the power, beauty and message of the Gospel. Our Lord listed three threats to the spiritual productiveness to the Christian's life . These thorns and thistles are designed to smother and kill the spiritual life. None are immune to them.  

Weed number one: Worry. It is the burden of existence. It is part of our nature. It becomes a menace when uncontrolled. The weed deterrent is in 1 Peter 5:7, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’ Our personal responsibility is to ‘cast.’ It is the Lord’s promise to carry. Worry is sticky and hard to effectively cast. It requires prayer from  the heart and with ‘hand’ covered in faithfulness and righteousness. Life will always throw worry our way therefore, we must develop the art of casting, constantly. 

Weed number two: Wealth. Here is the driving force of society. Jesus warned about an attitude to wealth which was ideal for weed growth, covetousness and materialism  The end result of not uprooting such soul pleasing but spirit choking ‘weeds’ is unfruitfulness! Then condemnation! Money isn’t the issue when it is a tool. It is a strangling vine when it is the master of a life. To keep this weed under control is to be practise the principle 'more blessed to give than to receive.'  1Timothy 6:18–19:‘Command those who are rich…to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age.’  

Weed number three: ‘desires for other things.’ Combating this wide ranging class of weeds requires constant discernment and specific attention to their influence. We may not be overly interested in wealth. Our nature may not be too dominated by worry. This weed seed collection however can find a lodging place. As I age I'm faced with these annoying yet appealing plants. 1 John 2:16–17 puts ‘the other things’ in three bundles clearly marked: ‘For everything in the world – the craving of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.’  

How can a follower of the Lord safeguard his or her heart and mind from being taken over by ‘thorns and thistles?’ The first place to start is by knowing the Heavenly Gardener's manual on plants and weeds! Scripture offers us the everyday terms for the plants that beautify a life and empower ministry. Also listed are the seeds of destruction. Read God's manual for a fruitful and challenging life.

This is followed by a self examination of what dominates our desires and enriches or steals from our relationship with the Lord, His Word, our intimate relationships and our walk of grace. To be a sluggard in this area is described in Proverbs 24:30–34. It’s an account of a sluggard who lacked judgement, was lazy and enjoyed his sleep. The outcome was visible to all. Poverty of his life and family and with his ground covered by thorns and thistles! May the Lord deliver us from being seen as such and dishonouring Him.

To be honest, I find actual gardening, pruning and mowing wearying at times. It has to be done. One thing about actual physical garden management is that when I'm too old or incapacitated to do it others will do it for me - sometimes for a price. But no-one can weed, prune or mow my spiritual garden, no matter my age. Therefore, I must be on guard against being weary in the things of my Lord. To drop my guard is to have the sower of weeds scatter and water them to my shame and the Lord's dishonour. There have been times when the Holy Spirit has drawn attention to my mind about my spiritual well-being. Eating the proverbial 'humble pie' isn't pleasant but essential. This must be followed by ruthlessly removing the offending growth which sometimes is hard spiritual, even relational work. 

Peter shares how to have the courage and strength to combat such an attack on the killer weeds. Keep applying to your inner and outer life, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. This results in a productive life. 2 Peter 1:8: ‘For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive (unfruitful in KJV) in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

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