It’s hard work and tedious. Often you sit there and start pulling, just to realize all you’ve done is pluck the tops of the weeds off, while the roots still remain deeply in the ground.
But every time I weed, I’m reminded of the spiritual correlations of weeding out sin in my heart.
I think of how much easier it is to pull the small weeds than the huge ones in the garden. But how it is also tempting to leave the “small ones” because there are so many! I’d rather just ignore them and pull the bigger, more obvious ones. It’s faster, after all.
I think God gives us this vivid picture for a reason. There are spiritual analogies in weed pulling that need to be continually on the forefronts of our minds. Hebrews 12:15 exhorts us to see that “…no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”
Don’t you find it interesting that God links bitterness with roots? Roots aren’t visible, but they are often strong—especially of the weed variety. And if we let something like bitterness take root, the ugly fruit will start to spurt out in our lives. Lashing out, criticizing, withdrawing, or other sinful responses will begin to wreak havoc. I know how quickly the root of bitterness can spring up in my life. It’s not pretty, and digging it out is certainly not fun.
But the consequences of failing to weed out the sin in our hearts are more devastating. Letting the weeds take root only results in more problems in our relationship with God and others, and overruns the good fruit, just as weeds, in time, overrun and steal the nutrients of the plants in a garden.
Thorough weeding takes time. And so does spiritual weeding. It includes being suspicious of my own motives and actions. It means not being content with “weed wacking”, but actually digging to get to the roots. Weeding out sin is not a moralistic "stop this and do that" type of response. It involves recognizing our weakness and depending on God to produce the needed change in our hearts.
With the cross before us, we must see the urgency to fight the sin that so easily entangles (Heb. 12:1), and look to Jesus. Rooting out sin won’t be enough if it's not replaced with real fruit. And we can’t produce fruit. Only God can do that work. It is only through abiding in Him that we can bear much fruit (Jn 15:5).
So let us take seriously our responsibility in spiritual weeding, and by the grace of God, carefully cultivate our relationship with Him and allow Him to prune us and produce the fruit needed in our lives.