This is a season in which many of us are growing flowers, vegetables and fruit. Out in the desert of west Texas where I live, this can be both delightful and challenging. We average only about 13 inches of rain per year and the scorching sun can easily burn tender plants. A significant amount of soil preparation often has to be done in order for many types of fruit and vegetables to survive.
A spiritual application to the question, “How’s Your Garden?” is well worth thinking about. We all experience periodic dry spells, times that are hot, challenging and difficult. It’s too easy to wilt in the heat! We become more mindful and grateful for those times God showers us with His blessings. We realize the soil of our heart needs extra preparation to faithfully thrive and to bear “much fruit” (John 15:5, 8).
The best gardeners I’ve known always just seem to love it. A cousin of mine in the state of Arkansas put a number of his grandkids through college and supported many, many good works by his love for gardening. He knew how to make things grow, but he knew that even with his knowledge and experience, he had to greatly rely upon his God. He was close to 80 when he went to be with the Lord, but his love and passion for gardening always amazed me. The energy and joy he had for it until the very end would work its way into virtually every conversation!
How about us and the matter of fruit production? (see Galatians 5:16-26). The most wonderful followers of Christ I’ve ever known always had a tremendous love and passion for it. Their energy seemed to be limitless and they blessed countless people as they produced “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23). Those who produce this “fruit” are humbly and desperately aware of how much they need the help of our Lord and Savior.
It all begins with love (Mark 12:30; John 13:34-35). And the rest of the Spirit’s fruit just seems to follow. Joy is love exulting and praising (Psalm 37:4; 1 John 1:4). God Himself is our exceeding joy (Psalm 43:4). Peace is love resting and trusting (Romans 5:1; John 14:27). Patience is love triumphantly enduring every trial and test (1 Timothy 6:11; Hebrews 12:1- 2). Kindness is love being gracious and gentle (Romans 2:4; 1 Corinthians 13:4). Goodness is love expressing itself in Christ-like, honorable ways.
Faithfulness is love having its eyes opened to the big picture. The Lord is ever seen in one’s thinking, words and actions. Meekness is love’s humble strength (Numbers 12:3; Matthew 11:28-30).
It is love knowing how and when to fight, and it is a love that always humbly bows before the Cross. Self control is love in wisely harnessed. It is love in all its richness and fulness brought under Christ’s control (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).
Dear Christian friend, how does your garden grow?