I’m definitely not the first person to ever compare sin to weeds in a garden. But putting a fresh take on an old analogy is never a bad idea.
However, instead of just comparing sins to weeds, I want to go a step further and compare the different levels of our sin to the different kinds of weeds. This probably already sounds quite tedious (maybe a bit like pulling weeds) but hear me out, it’ll be a summary.
Many of you probably hate weeding, yet there are those of us who actually enjoy it. Spotting an ugly weed, grabbing a hold, and feeling the root system give and pull out of the ground is strangely satisfying. Removing it from a beautiful space, slowly watching the area be cleared, seeing the change that you’re striving for, that is good work.
But if I’m honest, it’s when I start getting to the tiny little weeds, the ones you can barely grip and pull out, that I end up taking a break, walking away, and maybe never actually returning. Why is it that we’re happy to pull the big, showy, ugly weeds, but when it comes to the hard, little, maybe even barely noticeable ones we feel justified in quitting?
Now let’s consider this concept in our own lives. It is a great joy and good work when we are able to pull a big ugly dandelion-sized sin from our lives. We should rejoice to see sinful habits disappear from our daily lives. And God rejoices with us. But in the garden of our lives, we are called to address all sins…all weeds.
It’s not enough to pull the big obvious ones and then walk away like we’re done with the job. As John Owen says, we must “be killing sin or sin will be killing you”. Just as all the weeds in our garden are sucking the life out of the beautiful plants we long to grow there, even our little sins, the ones no one else notices, are sucking the life out of our sanctification.
“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) According to this verse, we clearly don’t have a pass to just be holier than the next guy. It’s not saying that as long as your garden looks a little better than your neighbor’s, you’re good. It’s saying holy: set apart, different, reserved for a higher purpose.
Are we setting apart the gardens of our lives for a higher purpose? Are we pulling all the weeds, even the hard little respectable sins, if you will…or only pruning the sins that make us feel good enough about ourselves to go on our way? Are we examining our hearts closely to see where we are lacking in diligence?
And, of course, we can do a whole other analogy on the concept of fertilizer. What garden thrives without good fertilizer? What heart thrives without the Word of God? Are you saturating the soil of your heart with Scripture, good teaching, Scripturally-based music, friends that point you to the truth?
It’s probably time for me to take off the gloves, put down the trowel, and leave it at this: Like the parable of the seeds… Your heart is soil absorbing what you put on the ground, being strangled by what you let grow there, and being beautified by what you intentionally plant and nurture. Let us pray that the Good Gardener Himself will help us to work diligently and intentionally in the gardens of our hearts, doing the hard work and seeing the blessed rewards.