While I was pulling weeds, I had quite a bit of time to think about them. Funny, isn't it? When you are doing a task, it is easy to either think about other things, or the task at hand. I decided that weeds had some lesson to teach me--they are mentioned in the Bible and clearly have some kind of application. So, here is what I have learned from our uninvited guests.
1. Weeds are not part of God's original design.
They result from the curse and if you have a garden, you have no doubt of this truth. Because of Adam's choice to disobey God, weeds are invaders to God's Creation. God says to Adam: “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.'" (Genesis 3:17-18)
Weeds are a constant reminder of Adam's choice to sin against God. As Adam's sons and daughters, we are not allowed to forget that sin came into the world through disobedience.
2. Weeds are part of the soil and their seeds are everywhere. They serve to remind us that sin is as well.
Sin, once it entered the Creation, permeates everything. A day doesn't go by without something terrible happening. Historians say that in 4,500 years of man's history, there has only been a total of 200 years of peace. So, conflict and war, murder and mayhem, suffering and sadness seem to be everywhere and affect everyone.
As Paul observes, "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." (Rom. 8:22). We feel the weight of sin as well as Creation itself.
3. We may not constantly plant weeds, yet they show up all the time.
We may not engage in particularly bad sins, yet we are never free from sin's pull, either. Maybe we are tempted all the time and yet wonder why we are so afflicted. Sin is part of who we are and the sooner we recognize this, the sooner we know we need a Savior: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
4. We ignore the little sins and worry about the big ones, forgetting that all sins start small.
I was tempted only to pull out only the large weeds. They were the most ugly and obvious. The little ones are hardly noticeable, and yet, where did I think the big ugly ones came from?
Any sin in our lives needs to be pulled. It is far easier to walk away from a sin with a tiny root, than to pull out a well-established one. In fact, the well-established weeds had sharp thorns or sticky sap that made them hard to pull out and they hurt my hand as I did so. So, I tried to get all the little ones as well.
The deepest roots should be Christ in us, not sin. "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ." (Col. 2:6-8).
5. Weeds thrive on the same things that plants thrive on: water, sun and soil.
Sin doesn't just happen. It needs to be watered (we act on it), it needs sun (we give it our attention and time) and it needs soil (we allow it to grow, thinking we can leave it be at any time). Of course, weeds are a counterfeit plant--some even look nice and yet will not only take over other plants, but destroy them. Sin is a counterfeit joy--it looks nice and we are deceived into thinking we are in control. Not so-- the weed of sin eventually chokes off the life within us and sometimes we realize how deceived we are, after much damage.
But that is why God sent His Son: to remind us that we cannot weed our own garden: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10).
In order to have a healthy garden or to keep our yard looking nice, we need to keep watch over the weeds. Sin is no different: without an admission of our need for a Savior and an everyday dependence on Him, we can too soon forget how nasty sin's weeds are and how quickly they take over.
One final note: Idaho has truly one of the nastiest weeds on the planet. They are called Puncture Weeds or Goat Head Weeds. They are ground creepers and spread out very quickly. They have these very evil seeds that will puncture a bicycle tire or your foot. You can't just reach down and pull them out because the seeds really hurt your hand. I had to rake them and cut them right at the base of the stem. I then used the rake to drag them over the side of a small embankment on our property.
My point? No one will ever celebrate the goat head weed. And yet today, sin is being celebrated as worthy of our attention and imitation. Each generation has its obvious goat heads--those things that we were taught vigorously to avoid. Sadly today, the most harmful weeds are being promoted as "transgressive" and "edgy." But a goat head by any other name will puncture your skin and cause pain. Sin by any other name will destroy and leave a scattering of broken lives in its wake.
Remember: Satan will never advertise sin as slavery. He promotes it as freedom. God's Word is our field guide to sin and we must never doubt God loves us enough to tell us to avoid even the most beguiling of weeds. This is the goat head weed as it starts out: kind of lovely, huh?
This is what the goat head will put forth later on as it grows. This is when the goat head reveals its true self. Sin is no different.