Is it just my imagination, or do weeds actually grow faster than the flowers I’m trying to nurture?
Gardeners will know what I’m talking about. Weeds seem to be gifted with internal steroids that accelerate their growth, outpacing the delicate flowers that we’ve brought home from the garden centre.
Weeds don’t seem to be affected by lack of rain or by intense heat. They’ll grow just about anywhere. They’re speed demons of growth compared to the flowers we try to baby along with regular watering and fertilizing.
I looked into this crucial issue on behalf of readers of The Faith Cafe, and found that weeds do have some competitive advantages.
Weeds which are perennials have the benefit of established root systems that have been alive for many years; these dormant roots have a lot of stored energy. Perennial weeds grow faster and are harder to kill than annuals.
Weeds are already acclimated to the region’s soil, and are highly adaptable. They’re usually native plants that thrive in the local ecosystem, unlike plants from the garden centre which may be non-native and need time to adjust.
Weed seeds are already present in our garden soil. They bide their time until the right conditions present themselves, and then race out of the soil. They’re often excellent self-propagators and are opportunistic growers.
All these things give weeds a head start over the flowers we favour.
This got me thinking:
Why do the “weeds” of our character grow better than the fruits of the Spirit?
Are there lessons we can learn from the natural world?
Our anger and resentment grow more quickly and vigorously than do our forgiveness and patience.
Telling others off is natural and native to us, but holding our tongue and prioritizing kindness seems foreign.
Our judgementalism and condemnation rise up naturally with little effort, but our compassion and gentleness seem to be reluctant growers.
Fault-finding needs little encouragement to grow: it will do so under any conditions. But love, which covers a multitude of sins, needs regular watering and fertilizing to become established.
Being self-centred has a long-established root system in our lives, with abundant energy to fuel it. Putting others first, on the other hand, might be something new to our soil. It takes time to become a habit.
Our propensity to sin is already present in us, biding its time. It bursts forth when it spots the right opportunity. Sin is also an excellent self-propagator: one sin leads easily to another. The fruits of the Spirit aren’t naturally at home within us, and have to be introduced.
In the Book of Galatians, we learn more about this competition between the “weeds” of our character and the desirable fruits of the Spirit:
“The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” (Galatians 5:17)
The apostle Paul admits to being confounded by this war going on inside him:
“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15)
What’s the solution?
With weeds in our garden, the answer is to cover the bare soil with mulch, pull out any seedlings immediately, and crowd the weeds out by planting your desired plants densely.
With weeds in our character, the remedy is similar. Allow Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross to cover your sins. Nip sin in the bud by repenting of any mistakes immediately. Invite the Holy Spirit to work in you to produce His fruits, which will crowd out the sinful habits that you’re prone to.
By regularly feeding on God’s Word and accepting the living water that Christ offers, the garden of your character will flourish. It will become a joy to others and a delight to your Heavenly Father.
Wouldn’t you like to live weed-free?
© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.