It’s not often that the word kill moves us to buy something. Except when it comes to weeds. We want our weeds gone, not wounded, not rendered sickly, but dead. So much so that we may be tempted to reach for a bottle that boasts the promise killer.
Even if a pair of gardening gloves and a sturdy hoe are our weapons of choice instead of chemical warfare, any gardener worth her seed knows the survival of wanted plants depends on destroying that which is unwanted, the weeds that persistently threaten to rule.
Weeds must be killed. Otherwise, they’ll kill.
This past spring, I planted my first rose bush. I rescued the darling from a 50% reduction table and figured if she didn’t survive, it wouldn’t be much of a loss. When I planted it, it was about the size of my hand, void of leaves or buds. Happily, it’s thriving and in bloom.
But those weeds! Who do they think they are encroaching on my sweet little rose bush? How dare they.
Before I planted, I attacked the patch or ground with a hoe and rake. Every few days I strangle those ever-invading killjoys with my hands, or I bring out the big gun, a hearty weed puller who’s become a friend. Sometimes the roots that emerge are shockingly enormous, and I have wondered if I could pretend their parsnips and make a soup.
All that work and still the weeds come back. All that effort and a couple days later, there they are again, rearing their beastly heads. The problem may lie partly with me and how I sometimes yank too swiftly, failing to extract the entire root.
The bigger the weed, the deeper the root, and the more exertion it takes to destroy. This is true for weeds in my garden as well as the weeds that crop up in my life. At first, I may not notice my stray thought, my biting remark but, left untended, small weeds grow into big weeds. The longer we let that thought go unchecked, the longer we entertain that activity that we know to be wrong, or give into that kind of speech, the harder it is to untangle ourselves. We may come to like our weeds, even mistake them for flowers.
But there is hope.
As believers, we strive to live for Christ yet fail daily. Yet his grace is sufficient daily. We fight against the flesh, the unwanted, destructive weeds that seek to choke and destroy. Weeds like pride, grumbling, self-absorption, greed, jealousy, and rage. And then there are weeds that seem ‘softer’, like dandelions, like people-pleasing or discontentment, that prove to be just as poisonous.
Often, we spot weeds in someone else’s garden before we notice our own – a weed (and a menacing one at that) in and of itself. As believers, we are not to coddle, excuse, or hide these weeds, our sins, but kill them, as Paul instructs in Colossians 3:5.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry.
And he goes on in verse eight. “…you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
Discard the old and display the new. Uproot the weeds and nurture virtue instead, trusting God to blossom his goodness in us because our life is his life. Our work, his actually his work, his tending in us since we are but branches clinging to him, the vine. (John 15:5)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
The battle against our weeds is constant but worthy. Who doesn’t enjoy a gorgeous well-tended garden? Who hasn’t been touched by a life of kindness and sacrifice? Perfection isn’t possible, yet there’s a notable distinction between perfection and letting the weeds grow wild. There’s a chasm between trying to live righteously in our own strength through gritted teeth and trusting in the power and forgiveness of the Righteous One who gave it all for all, who slayed sin and death.
Tend the garden. Kill the weeds. Fall in love with the Christ who is preparing a great garden city that bears no weeds at all.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Col. 3:8)