I weeded one of our ficus plants today. Over the years, it has been plagued by several stubborn weeds. Recently, a rather innocent-looking feathery plant decided to move in to the pot. I decided it had to go.
However, I couldn’t pull out all of the roots. No matter how hard I tried, a few of them seem to be superglued into the soil.
For now, I’ve let them be. But I know before long these roots will send new shoots and if left unchecked, they will eventually choke the healthy growth of the ficus plant.
I have some spiritual weeds too whose roots are infested deep in my heart. Even though it has been decades since I opened my heart to Jesus, I’m still fighting to keep it free of thorny sins like pride and envy. No matter how many times I confess these sins and receive God’s forgiveness, they sprout up again.
Why am I still weeding?
Sometimes this frustrates me. After all the years of following God, I begin to think He owes me clean, weed-free soil. I want His presence in my life to make it impossible for sin to grow.
But my unwelcomed feathery plant reminds me that no heart is ever immune from a weed taking root. If I am not continually vigilant, my soil will become overrun by wild, grasping sins.
One reason for this is that my spiritual life isn’t lived in a vacuum. When the Holy Spirit took up residence in me, He did not seal off my heart or put it under glass.
Much has happened since that day. I left my childhood home. I went to college and got married. I parented and worked. Then we moved to another country. I changed jobs. Our nest emptied. Each season brings the possibility of new growth and of fresh temptation.
That’s why I have to keep checking my heart. If I get weary of weeding and stop paying attention, the weeds won’t mind. They’ll keep spreading their tendrils through the soil of my heart, happy to be left unchecked.
Whenever I doubt this, I only have to go to the news where I can read another sad story about a longtime Christian’s stunning moral failure. Or I can remember my own failures–perhaps not as spectacular but just as damaging to my fellowship with God.
Killing the roots
The stubborn weeds in the ficus pot have another lesson for me as well: I’m not strong enough to get rid of every sin on my own. Some roots are so tenacious and deep in me, that sheer willpower is not sufficient. I need God to do it for me.
That’s why Jesus died on the cross: because I couldn’t save myself. And I can’t save myself now. Although I need to weed and work as I follow Jesus, only the power of the Holy Spirit can take away my persistent sins. And this kind of open-heart surgery is not always pleasant. God may desire truth in my inner parts, but I am not always eager to have it.
However as I surrender day after day after day, and let Him into the darkest corners of my heart, He dissolves the bitter roots by His grace.
What about you? Have you let God weed your heart lately? Do you have a stubborn root that needs His powerful grace?
In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape us with the Word, making a salvation-garden of our life.
James 1:21 paraphrase of The Message.