Be a Constant Gardener for God
Park, California, USA
I have always loved gardens. I
enjoy picking and eating the fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruits that my
parents grow in our backyard. When life is hectic and stressful, I can always
depend on leisurely strolls through the Botanical Garden on campus to clear my
mind and lift my spirits.
Since I was a child, flowers have
brought so much joy and beauty to my life, but it was not until I grew up that
I understood that behind each flower is the labor of a diligent gardener.
Unfortunately, I have never been
very successful at growing plants or at keeping them alive. But there is much
more at stake when we neglect to tend to the spiritual garden within each of
us. . .
In the spiritual realm, our heart
is the soil and we are the gardeners assigned to its care. The garden of our
heart requires as much attention and preservation as a real, physical garden
does. Just like a physical garden, a carefully cultivated heart will not only
be filled with abundant life but also benefit others by producing many times
what was originally planted there.
But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a
crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and
some a hundred. (Mk 4:8)
As we know from the parable of the
sower, the quality of our heart’s soil makes a vast difference in whether we
can please God and edify others. As we become spiritually mature, it is
important that we also yield thirty-, sixty-, or a hundredfold to provide nourishment
for others. I believe that all of us aspire to be this type of fruitful garden
Let’s take a look within. What
does God see when he looks in you? Do what we produce bring joy to God and to
others around us? Or do you feel that your garden is helplessly overgrown with
your own desires and pleasures of this world?
No matter what state our inner
garden is in, it is never too late to make the determination to dedicate our
hearts for God’s purpose and take the steps necessary to replant and maintain
its spiritual health.
BUILD A FENCE
Wherever we go each day, we fill
our hearts with what we see, think and experience. Different people we meet
along the way plant good or bad seeds within us. Media also leave a
long-lasting impression on our hearts, be it images or messages. It’s not fair
to God if we fill our hearts indiscriminately all day and expect Him to clean
out the accumulated junk for us at the end of the day.
Instead, let us guard our heart
carefully and jealously for it is one of the few things in the world that is
solely our own. Be aware of what enters, because the Bible tells us that its
contents affect the quality of our lives. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the
issues of life” (Prov 4:23). Since God is faithful to forgive our sins when we
confess, let us in turn strive to be faithful by not allowing sin to enter so
freely. Pursuing holiness, purity, and righteousness to be more like Him
touches His heart and is the first step to building a close relationship with
So build a fence around your
heart. In a “garden enclosed,” the influences of the outside world will not be
able to drown out the Word and the Holy Spirit’s attempt to help our gardens
And only inside a “garden
enclosed” can you find the most fragrant garden imaginable:
…an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant
fruits, fragrant henna with spikenard, spikenard and saffron, calamus and
cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all the chief
spices.” (Songs 4:12-14)
A garden contains such wonders when
it is not of this world. By shutting itself from the rest of the world, the
garden can attract others with its scent, beauty and lushness.
At this point, you may be
thinking: There is no way that I can be completely cut off or isolated from the
rest of the world! This is true. God wants us to live among the world, as our
Lord Jesus did, but we must be different. Gardens left to run wild lose the
power to attract because there exists no difference in them to be admired.
Because we are different, it is
inevitable that we will meet those who mock our values and standards. However,
many actually want, and wait, to see whether we have something to offer them
that is different and better than what they have already found in the world. If
we persist in maintaining the beauty of our heart’s garden, our entire lives
can be a living testimony used to lead others to God.
PULL OUT THE WEEDS
The longer a garden is neglected,
the more time weeds have to firmly root themselves. Even if there are good
crops, weeds that grow beside them become intertwined with them, making the
weeds even harder to completely pull out.
Any weed we don’t pull out
jeopardizes our holy work and good deeds. Therefore, we need to weed out the
sins that try to enter every day. As we reflect on God’s word and develop the
habit of carefully examining our heart, it becomes easier to spot the weeds
before they sprout. This is a duty that we must perform faithfully throughout
our entire lifetime as our heart’s caretaker.
What about the weeds that have
been rooted in our hearts long before we put up a firm fence? These sins
require more than a cursory prayer before bed to be removed. One must spend a
long time in prayer in order to dig down to the root of the weed. Then, it is
time to pull out the weed by truly repenting and figuring out how to change.
Pulling out resistant weeds can be
very painful. However, such discipline is a demonstration of our faithfulness
to God. Don’t expect these deeply-rooted sins to be removed overnight. Often,
we recognize our sins and understand the need for change but do not know how to
fully rid ourselves of sins that have been abiding in our hearts for so long.
Even thinking about the numerous times we have struggled with sin and lost can
be enough to discourage us.
Yet, do not despair! No matter how
long the process, God is always by our side helping us. He is the Great
Gardener, who planted His truth within us in the first place. Under His
watchful eye, the seed of truth will not be choked, no matter how much the
weeds may threaten to overrun the garden.
Being confident of this very thing, that He who
has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
God has the ability to weed out
the most defiant of sins but first we must be willing to part with our sin and
ask for His help.
God knows all of our foolishness
and none of our sins are hidden before Him. Even so, He waits for us to want to
change first. Place your “trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart before
Him; God is a refuge for us” (Ps 62:8). Tell Him of each sorrow. Tell Him how
you struggle with the sin. Tell Him of your desire to change. If we place our
faith in Him, He will advise us on how to remove sins that we do not know how
to get rid of.
God is the best gardener. In His
wisdom, He knows whether it is better for us to have more sunshine or more
storms at any given point in our life. While we may crave endless sunshine, let
us remember that difficulties are also given by God to wash away impurities in
our hearts. When the storms have passed, our gardens will be more spiritually
healthy and beautiful in His sight.
MAINTAIN A CONSISTENTLY BEAUTIFUL GARDEN
After continuously producing
crops, even the best soil can become depleted of nutrients if not fertilized.
When we serve God continuously without cultivating, we also become devoid of
A physical gardener would let the
ground lie fallow until the soil has recovered, but this not something we can
afford to do in our spiritual lives. Time does not stop for anyone. As life
continues, new responsibilities are added to us. We meet people day to day, and
our actions at that time either glorify God to them or not. We cannot say,
“Please wait while I recover!” Missed opportunities are missed. Relationships
with our families and friends can suffer if not constantly maintained.
Therefore, we need to learn how to
renew ourselves while bearing fruit continually. The secret lies in the
continuous watering of His Word. God can create in us a clean heart and renew a
steadfast spirit within us (Ps 51:10), but we need to open up the Bible and
accept that nourishment for ourselves.
In addition, continually bearing
fruit is linked to being continually found in the house of the Lord. “Those who
are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.
They shall still bear fruit in old age” (Ps 92:13-14). Keeping the Sabbath and
maintaining fellowship with spiritual friends are ways to refresh and fertilize
our hearts as we work side by side for Him.
Maintaining a beautiful spiritual
garden takes constant effort and does not end until we finish our journey here
on earth. Until that day, let us keep looking unto Jesus, the author and
finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). He has begun the work for us and He is the
one who will sustain us to the end.