He [Jesus] answered, “The one who plants the good seeds is the Son of Man. The field is the world. The good seeds are those who belong to the kingdom. The weeds are those who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted them is the devil.” [Matthew 13: 37-39 (NLT)]

7-1-15thistle (Canadian)-LGenWI572-cropwebI love thistles—when I’m taking their pictures in the woods. I discovered I don’t much care for them when they’re in my garden. But, there they were, along with dandelions, knotweed, clover, sorrel, mint, chives, prickly lettuce and other unidentified weeds in what used to be my rose garden. Months of neglect had taken its toll on our plant beds and only a few pink rose petals were even visible in the tangled mess. At one time, this had been a well-established and properly tended garden, but our more than nine month absence for two years in a row allowed the weeds to prevail.

My husband and I were faced with a dilemma similar to the one God faced with Sodom: in ours, far too many weeds and in His, far too many sinners. Because Abraham pled with God, the righteous Lot and his family were saved from destruction but the rest of the sinful city was destroyed. In the case of our garden, however, the two remaining stunted rose bushes had no one to plead for them and were pulled up along with the weeds. Unlike God, we swept away the innocent with the guilty! After thoroughly removing every plant, we started fresh, only this time with zebra grass that, hopefully, will better survive our neglectful gardening.

As we worked, I thought of Jesus’ parables about the farmers who sowed their seeds. One farmer planted seeds on different kinds of ground. The seeds sown on the quality soil produced a good harvest and represented those who heard and understood God’s word—people of faith. In another parable, Jesus told of a farmer who had planted good seeds in quality soil only to learn that his field had weeds. The weeds, planted by the enemy, were scheduled for future destruction. Looking at my garden, I knew it wasn’t Satan, but rather neglect, that had caused my weeds. It suffered from lack of attention; there had been no cultivating, watering, pruning, fertilizer, or weed pulling.

We can have a firmly established faith but, like our garden, faith can’t be ignored or neglected; it must be nurtured. Without cultivating our faith with church and fellowship, watering it with His word, pruning it with prayer, fertilizing it with service, and vigorous weed pulling with confession and repentance, our faith can’t thrive. The enemy will be able to take over and destroy the garden of our lives. Without consistent care, our faith won’t flourish; it will be weak or die like my roses.

As for me, now that I’m done with the house garden, I plan on doing some serious work in the garden of my faith. I don’t want to give the enemy a foothold and end up being swept away with the wicked or burnt with the weeds. How about you? Do you have any gardening that needs to be done?

The Lord remained with Abraham. Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? [Genesis 18:22b-23 (NLT)]

When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it. [Hebrews 6:7-8 (NLT)]