Friday, June 21, 2013

Black Thumb

Dead plant in pots
I have a black thumb.  The list of plants I have killed is so long, it's almost comical.  My cactus withered up and died.  I've planted basil at least four times, and it always shrivels.  I'd like to say that I just don't have the knack for being a gardener, but that would be dodging the truth.  The real reason I'm a plant killer is that I don't give them the nourishment they need.  If they had adequate water and soil nutrients, I'm sure my plants would still be alive today.

Last week I discussed how the Holy Spirit gets all the credit for my spiritual growth, and how glad I am that He takes care of it.  What I didn't talk about is my own part to play in bearing the fruit of the Spirit.  The Bible uses the metaphors of plants and babies to examine the relationship between God's work and ours in spiritual growth.

Peter compares Christians to newborn babies when he tells us how to grow.  "Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation" (1 Peter 2:2).  God grows us through His word, and he's never yet tied a person to a chair and held open their eyelids to make them read it.  That part is up to me.  We've mentioned this before, but anyone who has been around a baby knows what it is like when that infant longs for milk.  Nothing will satisfy her until her tummy is full.  Imagine if we had that same kind of longing for the Word of God.  If I woke up the morning and nothing would satisfy me until I drank my fill of Scripture?  A baby who gets her fill of milk will grow no matter how hard Mamma wants to keep her little baby.  The same applies to us.  If we drink deeply of the word, we will grow.  

 A plant that has good soil will grow too.  Jesus tells us how important it is to have the right kind of soil.  When he told his disciples the parable of the sower, he compared the Word of God to a seed and our hearts to the dirt it grows in.  As Christians, we have a few "soil problems" to watch out for. The first is the rocky soil.  If we have rocky soil, we have not counted the cost. We receive the word with joy and then fall away when persecutions come.  It is easy to be joyful when we are saved from sin and death, but with it should come a sobering reality that we may be in for a rough ride because of our faith.  Knowing that Jesus will carry us through the rough times helps us to stay firmly rooted in Him.  

The other soil problem is thorns.  Jesus tells us that some hearts are so choked by the thorns of worry and riches that the seed planted there can't grow.  I find it fascinating that "worries" and "riches" are placed side by side.  I've seen that juxtaposition in action.  When my faith wasn't firmly on Christ, I worried a lot about riches!  A lily in God's field does not have to worry about those thorns.  We know that God takes care of us, so we can save our energy to grow in his service.

What happens to the baby or the plant that doesn't grow?  My black thumb can tell you that the opposite of growth is not stagnation but death.  The only animals that can get away with staying the same are the mature ones.  Since the yardstick for maturity is Jesus himself, I don't expect to get there this side of heaven.  That means that continued growth is my aim.  Thankfully, God takes care of the growth.  All I have to do is make sure my soil is good and that I am continually replenishing myself with the pure milk of Scripture.  


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