I wipe the sweat from my forehead with my dirty hands as I look with a feeling of accomplishment. In the ground before me is a small square of tilled up dirt that, Lord willing, will soon flourish with green plants bearing delicious tomatoes, watermelon, cucumbers, green beans, and many other healthy vegetables for my family to enjoy. Should the garden bear much fruit, we will freeze or can the extras to provide food throughout the year.
To give the plants the best opportunity to grow and thrive, I pull the weeds that steal vital nutrients from the soil. Then, I cover the exposed dirt with compost and leaves that will help prevent new weed growth and retain moisture in the ground. Since I’ve removed the existing weeds and provided mulch for future weeds, I shouldn’t have to worry about weeds in my garden any more this year…right?
Actually, all I’ve really done is slow the process down. After a good rain and a few days of sunshine, the weeds will relentlessly return. Each week, I must diligently pluck fresh intruders trying to make their way into my garden. If I don’t persevere in this tedious task, then it will only take a short time before the weeds overtake my defenseless garden. I wish fighting weeds was a one-time job each year, but unfortunately it’s an ongoing battle.
Constantly Moving To Disorder
I remember learning in science class at a young age that things tend to move to disorder. No matter how well you spring clean your house, it’s only a matter of time before its dirty again (if you have four children, it’s only a matter of minutes). The fragrance and visual appeal of a freshly cut lawn satisfies for a moment, but will need another cut in a week or so. The clean smell of new construction will eventually, over the years, be replaced with an ever-present mildew smell that requires renovations. And, no matter how weed-free your garden is at the beginning of spring, soon you will be on your hands and knees fighting a battle that seems never-ending.
Likewise, the same move toward disorder is true in our spiritual lives. We don’t naturally move toward godliness, and our battle against sin doesn’t stop at the moment of conversion. It’s an ongoing war that we’ll fight the rest of our lives. A season of slacking against our fleshly desires will produce a life full of unwanted weeds stealing goodness and life we need to thrive.
Scripture encourages us to continue fighting this battle and to “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14). Jesus encourages us in our daily prayer to ask God for forgiveness (Matt. 6:12), knowing that we will need grace and mercy against a difficult enemy.
The Power For the Battle
Just the thought of picking weeds zaps my strength. It’s not overwhelming in the early spring when temperatures are cooler, but as the Texas summer intensifies, there are a thousand other things I’d rather do than spend time in the garden picking weeds (all of them in the air-conditioned indoors). Oftentimes, I simply don’t feel motivated to keep fighting the weeds.
Thinking about the inevitability of the battle against my sin also tempts me to give up. I know sin will rear its ugly head ready for war; it’s just a matter of time before another temptation calls out to my weak and weary flesh. Such battling, especially the same sin over and over, can lead to discouragement. Growing weary can make one wonder the point of persevering when the battle seems hopeless.
Yet, while I don’t have a supernatural help to fight the weeds in my garden, I do have a such a helper in my war on sin. God has promised the Helper, and it is “by the Spirit” that we put to death our sinful deeds (Rom. 8:13).
I can’t do it on my own. You can’t do it on your own. But, the power to overcome temptation has been provided, which is why Paul encourages us to “walk by the Spirit.” As we walk in the Spirit, we will not give in to the temptations of the flesh. Paul explains: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other” (Gal. 5:16-17).
This doesn’t mean the battle will be easy. It will require diligence, patience, self-control, and a daily dependance on the Holy Spirit. But, the worst thing you can do is give up. As discouraged as you may be, the fact that you are still fighting is a sign that the Spirit of God is working in you. Keep picking the weeds and trust that the fruit will follow.
In this life, you’ll continually need to clean your house and mow your lawn. If you grow a garden, you’ll repeatedly need to pick weeds even when you don’t feel like it. And, if you want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, you’ll constantly have to wage war on your sin. Thankfully, we do not have to fight alone or in our own power. But, “thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:57).
Brother and sister in Christ, keep up the fight and never stop picking the weeds.