Arizona is not known for it’s rain, but this year we have had more than most, making for a plethora of weeds. Looking out the glass slider of our dining room, I could see thistles and tuffs of grass growing all over the yard and even through our patio clay tiles. Armed with a weed tool, vinyl gloves, and a small bucket, I set up to attack this invasive vegan army. As I dug and pulled the tares, God reminded me of other kinds of roots, roots that damage the soil of our hearts and our lives.
The first harmful root was bitterness. How many of you have unresolved family issues? We have a few, which has caused hardness of heart and an unwillingness to forgive. This has affected all of us, in some way or another, and has made it impossible for the whole family to be present at family functions. God hates unforgiveness and he warns us that he is not able to forgive us if we are not willing to forgive others. Matthew 6:15 Bitterness is a sin and it affects our relationship to God, as well as our relationships to each other. It says in Hebrews 12:15, ” See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many”
To explain this definition of “defile many”, lets look at the definition of a garden weed and the damage it causes to other plants. An article, from http://www.environment.gov, defines weeds as such: weeds reduce farm and forest productivity. They invade crops, smother pastures, and, in some cases, harm livestock. They aggressively compete for water, nutrients, and sunlight, resulting in reduced crop yield and poor crop quality.”
Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 7: 16, 18-19 We are urged to bear good fruit for God because he has saved us from condemnation and wants us to show others the result of our new lives, in Him. Our works do not save our souls, but our works prove our faith in Christ and allow us to live in praise to God for what he has done for us. When we allow bitterness, worry, lust, and anger to grow in our hearts, it affects our growth, spiritually, emotionally and, in some cases, physically.
As I pulled, some of the weeds broke as the came up. I knew the root was still down deep in the soil but I couldn’t get it. There are many rocks in the Arizona soil which make it difficult for the trowel to dig down deep enough. Our “bitter roots” are the same. Sometimes, it takes months or years to rid ourselves of these tares of the heart. The feelings of anger, rejection, hopelessness, or unforgiveness are released in stages. We may release these to God, in prayer, only to take them back, later on. Only when we dig deep enough into our soul and release our hurts and failures to Jesus, can we be free from the damage these cause. In Matthew 11: 28-30, Jesus says, ” Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Another nasty characteristic of weeds is that they multiply faster than crops and will overcome the crops if allowed to become established in the field. The National Institute of Open Schooling also states that weeds block the flow of water ( Jesus is our living water), affect the quality of a sheep’s wool, can irritate skin, cause allergy, and can also be poisonous. Hmmm. Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Notice, it says, ” IF ALLOWED TO BE ESTABLISHED”. So, then, if we rid ourselves, quickly, of unwanted thoughts, hurts, anger, etc. then we are freeing ourselves from the poison of these tares in our lives.
What if we have allowed ourselves to be rooted in sin? Jesus is willing to forgive us and the Holy Spirit can help us overcome our weaknesses. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Also, remember to forgive others so that God can forgive you and restore you.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4: 31-32
I am still digging in the garden of my heart, too. It is a painful process but one I am certain to accomplish, through my Lord, Jesus Christ. May God give me (and you) the victory for his glory and for my (our) crown.