This spring and summer we have had a whole lot of rain. As a result, we have much greener grass and healthier plants outside, but we also have had a lot more weeds coming up among the plants. I weed one weekend and by the next weekend, it looks like I haven’t done anything.
One dictionary definition of a weed is “a plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one that grows where it is not wanted and often grows or spreads fast or takes the place of desired plants.” I have found that sometimes undesirable, unattractive or troublesome things grow weed-like in the “garden” of my heart too.
One of the “weeds” I have to constantly uproot is selfishness. It is “natural” to consider my needs above others and want to protect myself, my stuff, my time, and my turf from others. No matter how naturally this grows in me, I have to pull it up and choose to be selfless, generous, and giving.
Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. 1
Another is discontent. I find myself wishing that I was thinner, prettier, more “important”, or more “successful” instead of being grateful for all the ways that God has blessed me in my life. This is a weed that can grow so out of control that I end up feeling frustrated, disappointed, and hopeless. This weed keeps me from enjoying my life and living out God’s purpose for me on this earth.
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. 2
You’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. 3
Then there’s the weed of pride. This weed is harder to recognize because there can be healthy pride and unhealthy pride. Healthy pride involves a healthy self-esteem; a confidence of purpose; feeling good about my own or one of my family member’s accomplishments without feeling I am better or more deserving than others. An unhealthy pride involves boasting, comparing, competing, self-sufficiency, arrogance, stubbornness and conceitedness. I need to be careful to weed out unhealthy pride without weeding out healthy pride. This particular job of weeding requires help from the expert gardener, the Holy Spirit, who helps with discerning one from the other.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. 4
Another weed that creeps up in the garden of my heart is indulgence. This is another tricky one because sometimes it’s unclear at what point it becomes too much of a good thing. Eating is a necessity, but overeating is indulgence and is a slippery slope to harming my body and to food addiction. It is not bad to watch a program I like but binge-watching a show at the expense of relationships, work, or sleep is unhealthy.
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 5
One of the most prolific weeds that likes to grow up in my garden is anxiety. This weed tries to choke out joy, peace, and faith. I daily have to combat this weed to keep it from overrunning my garden. The “weeding” process requires prayer and the use of Scripture. Using verses as a machete to cut this weed is a must, since my own thoughts and feelings tend to encourage this weed to grow.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. 6
His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey.7
We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ 8
These are just some of the examples of weeds that creep up in the garden of our hearts. The “chore” of weeding is not at all enjoyable – it can be tedious, hard, and even feel like an exercise in futility. But just as my garden outside looks beautiful once I’ve weeded and the good plants are able to grow better, the garden of my heart when tended can yield beauty and grace and is definitely worth the effort.
Quotes from the Message paraphrase of the Bible
- Philippians 2:2-4
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
- Philippians 4:8
- Proverbs 16:18
- Galatians 5:13
- Philippians 4:6-7
- Hebrews 4:12
- 2 Corinthians 10:5