A few months ago, Staci and I decided to take on the challenge of planting our first flower garden, albeit a small one, as a new and fun activity to do with our daughter Makenzie.
I say challenge, because neither one of us had any real experience to speak of planting anything. Needless to say, we asked a lot of questions of a lot of people.
So, over the course of a few weeks, we began the painstaking process of first tilling a small patch of ground in front of our house, selecting the right flowers to plant, then getting those flowers planted.
After planting, we dutifully kept them sunned and watered, but as spring turned to summer, I noticed something else intruding on our carefully planted garden – weeds.
All over, and even intertwined with the flowers, the weeds drew on the same water, soil nutrients and sun, the weeds began to try to take over and choke life out of the flowers.
And, if we are not careful, the same thing can easily happen in the gardens of our hearts, especially in times like the last few months, where fear, anxiety and stress are heightened for so many of us.
Paul offers a guide, though, to identifying several of those weeds in Ephesisans 4:25-31...falsehood, anger, selfishness, slander, bitterness, wrath and malice.
Weeds in our hearts are sneaky. They start as tiny seeds and weave their way through the cracks into our hearts.
It could be a news report that gets under our skin. It could be an opinion on Facebook we disagree with. It could be a decision made that doesn’t fit with our plans. Or it could be something a loved one said or does, that is not even intended to make us angry, but sets us off in the midst of an overly stressful day. It doesn’t take much.
The weeds of life are many, and if left unchecked can grow so large and so plentiful they completely choke the life and joy out of us. Paul tells us in verse throughout the passage to make sure we are proactive in removing the weeds from our lives.
The good news, though, is when we identify those weeds, Paul also offers a sure weed-killer in verse 32:
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Kindness, compassion, and forgiveness – the same unconditional love Jesus showed on the cross – overcome the weeds in any heart, including our own, when spread generously throughout a hurting world.
Especially in trying times, make sure you take time daily to weed the garden of your heart. Identify the hurt choking the life out of you. Lay it at the feet of the Savior and let it go.
Let Christ’s love shine in the lives around you, and even in the midst of the storm, you will see the garden bloom.
Daniel Kiewel is a reporter with the Great Bend Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.