assumptions, battles, bitterness, burdens, calling, Christian encouragement, christian journey, christian walk, Christianity, devotions, encouragement, exhaustion, faithfulness, fertile soil, God, laziness, overgrowth, sluggards, thistles, thorns, unkept fields, weeding, weeds
Proverbs 24:30-32 says, “I passed by the field of the sluggard, and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense; and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles, its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked and received instruction.”
When I read this the other day, I couldn’t help but think of a lot of areas in the lives of Christians today. I thought of the state of our families, our personal testimonies and our churches. We didn’t mean for things to become this chaotic, it just somehow happened. We didn’t mean for our lives to become so busy that the thorns and thistles of life took over, but now we look around and so many minor things have become major. We didn’t mean for our church fields to become fallow and weedy, but that’s exactly what they are. We didn’t mean for it to happen, but it did.
This passage in Proverbs tells us that the people involved didn’t mean for things to get as bad as they did, they just weren’t paying attention. They were tired. They were idle and the weeds grew. I’m sure the sluggard would have much rather the field still be ready for a harvest, but he had rested too long and things had gotten out of hand. He didn’t actually go out to his field and sow the thistles. He just didn’t do anything, or if he did anything, it sure wasn’t enough. Thistles took over and one day I’m sure he looked at his field and was shocked to see the work that it would take to remove all the overgrowth. He must have thought, “Is it worth it? Do I even need to bother to try to get this mess fixed? Is there still hope for a harvest?”
I think a lot of Christians feel this way today. We didn’t mean for a standard to fall. We just didn’t stop the progress of the weeds. We got tired of pulling the same stinkin’ thistles over and over again. We wanted to rest, but just for a little while. After all, that video game isn’t really that bad for our kids. That book is supposed to have great educational properties, so we’re sure it’s okay this time. We got tired of always being the parent that says, “No.” Or, we got tired of always being the one to apologize, so we decided that relationship was finished until they apologize. Unfortunately, they never did, so we allowed a root of bitterness to grow (Hebrew 12:15). We didn’t mean for it to happen. We were just too tired to continue the work.
Do you see how easy it is? How easy it is to simply do nothing? When we do nothing, the weeds come quickly and in abundance. The nettles grow and the next thing we know our wall is tumbling down due to the pressure from the weeds. Our ancient landmarks simply vanish (Proverbs 22:28) because we forget that our strength is in the Lord. We grow weary in well doing because we forget that God makes our feet like hinds’ feet to make us walk on our high places (Habakkuk 3:17-19). We forget that He is our Source and our Deliverer (Psalm 37:40). We forget and the weeds grow.
I’m sure all of us remember the famous quote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Well, in the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah decided that he was going to stop doing nothing. We read that the Lord told him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. We see that Nehemiah was granted favor from the king, but of course, he had quite a bit of opposition throughout the process.
This is our plight as well. We have the favor of our King to rebuild our walls, but the opposition is great. When we start pulling the weeds of bitterness, anger and unforgiveness, it is going to get Satan’s attention and the opposition will be strong. We have to be determined to not give up. I Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” When you are willing to start pulling the weeds, the Holy Spirit’s rain will fall and soften the soil. Hosea 6:3 says, “…His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.” The Word also assures that He will be pulling right alongside you and He will refresh your spiritual muscles when things get too rough. He is so faithful!
Satan will be an opposing force, but so will those we affect. If we have let our standards come down with our family, (our walls if you will), they will be a forceful opposition as well. If you have allowed a television show, a video game, a song choice, a book, or anything else in your home that shouldn’t be there and now you are pulling those weeds out….watch out….opposition is headed your way. Be sure and explain your stance and pray together about the situation. You may even need to ask their forgiveness for letting those particular weeds in, but don’t grow weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9). Keep pulling the weeds. Nehemiah said to the Israelites in Nehemiah 4:14, “… ‘Do not be afraid of them; remember the LORD who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.’” I know that nothing can cause more fear in the heart of a parent than a confrontation with a child about removing something they have fallen in love with, but it will be worth it. It may feel like you are fighting with your children, but remember you are really fighting for them. They are worth the work.
Another opposing force will be yourself. Weeding is hard work! And, the longer the job has been left unattended, the harder it is. Everything not of God must be cleared out and then the boundaries must be reset. Not only that, but once everything had been re-established, things must be maintained, or you are right back where you started. It sounds exhausting, but remember this is your calling. We are called to fight for our fields of influence. We are called to protect the land the Lord had entrusted to us. We are called to keep our fences up and our weeds out. But, we are not alone in the endeavor. We are never alone. Hebrews 13:5 tells us that our God will never leave us or forsake us. He never gets tired, or lazy. He never sleeps. Hebrews 13:6 goes on to say, “…we confidently say, ‘The LORD is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?’”
So, no matter how bad the prospect of weeding looks, God is calling you to get to it. Your fields are at stake. Your family is at stake. Your church is at stake. Your life influence is at stake. Determine not to be a sluggard. Determine to be the workman that He has called you to be (Ephesians 2:10) and know that the day you look at the garden of your life and just see beautiful, pliant, fertile soil that you will know that your God can do exceedingly, abundantly whatever you can ask, think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Then, you will be able to sing at the top of your lungs, “To God be the glory great things He hath done!”