One of my favorite things about summer time is watching my flowers and plants grow. There is a strange satisfaction in watching something that I planted grow into something pretty or delicious. There is even more satisfaction when I get to cook my produce! Sometimes I’ll just go stand and look at my garden and just admire the progress. I would say I’d go out and water it, but we’ve had so much rain this summer, that I think I’ve only had to drag the water hose out there twice so far.
There is one garden chore, though, that I particularly dread. Weeding. There is no easy way to weed the garden. Whether it’s weeding the garden with a rake and a hoe, or kneeling over the flower beds to pull the pesky weeds around the house, there is no comfortable way to accomplish the task. Earlier in the week, I’d worked in the flower beds. It was here that I noticed something interesting.
I began to notice what type of weeds that came up and where they grew.
Around my day lilies, these long, grass-like weeds were coming up. Around my aloe plants, these spikey, short weeds started appearing. The two different types of weeds were almost exclusively in the separate flower beds. It was as if the weeds were trying to hide among a plant that closly mimicked them in appearance. I had to pay attention to make sure that I didn’t accidently pull up the plant that was planted on purpose as I went to grab the weed. Some of the weeds were growing so close to their mimic plant that I had to make sure that pulling up the root to the weed didn’t pull up the root to the plant.
As I sat outside in the heat, covered in dirt, I started thinking that these weeds were pretty tricky, clever actually. If I hadn’t been hunched over looking for weeds, I wouldn’t have realized how many were actually there. So many of them blended right in with the actual plants.
Then I started thinking about how this happens in our lives sometimes. That the devil is tricky, and he knows how to blend right in and throw things at us that we may not even identify as a weed until it’s so intricately bound into our roots that removing it threatens our stability.
Actually, this was his very first trick. I’ve said before that the devil doesn’t need very many tactics to trip up us humans. And he keeps coming back to his very first one, because it keeps proving effective.
Genesis 3 recounts the story. Verse 1 starts off by calling the devil ‘crafty’. Adam and Eve were living in sinless perfection at this time. In a beautiful garden that God created just for them. They could do whatever they wanted, except for one thing. They were not allowed to eat the fruits of one particular tree. Then the devil came on the scene, disguised as a serpent. He questions them about what God actually told them about the tree. “Did God really say, ‘You much not eat from any tree in the garden?” (v. 1). Tricky. Because that’s not at all what God told them. Eve responded “We may eat from the trees in the garden, but God did say ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden…or you will certainly die.’” (v. 2-3)
Now the devil decided to plant some doubt. “You will not certainly die. For God knows that when you eat the from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil.” (v. 4-5) He started Eve doubting that God had her best interest at heart. Implied that God was just being egotistical, ensuring that they didn’t reach God-status. He planted enough doubt, that disobeying God’s one command became an option. And she took it. She took the fruit and ate it. Adam followed closely behind, and sin has since torn God’s perfect creation apart.
And it’s not like we got any smarter as humans. He is using the same trick to this day. Do any of these sound familiar?
“Is it really gossip? You’re just confiding in a friend who also cares about her. I’m sure she would want them to know.”
“You’re not being selfish. He didn’t consider you when he made his last decision. Maybe seeing how it feels to be on the receiving end will help everyone treat each other better in the future.”
“It’s pretty certain you’re going to marry him, right? You’ll eventually have sex with him, so doing it a little early won’t hurt. It may even bring you closer together.”
“It’s just an extra drink or two. You’ve had a long day, you deserve it. It will probably help you be more agreeable around your family if you do.”
“It’s not exactly the lifestyle God called you to live, but you’re doing so much good for other people right now that surely God can’t fault you for letting your guard down for just a second. He wants you to be happy, doesn’t He?”
“It’s not totally the truth, but there’s still some truth mixed in it. As long as you mix some truth in with it, that lie won’t hurt anybody.”
“You’re not meeting up with this person or anything. As long as you don’t cross that line, it’s OK to talk with him and not tell your husband. You’re not exactly breaking your wedding vows by doing that.”
Satan knows better than to put a situation in front of us that is so grossly wrong that we would just balk at it. He starts us on little compromises and doubts. Things that don’t look totally out of place; they kind of blend in actually. On the surface at least. But underneath the surface, their roots are attacking the roots of who we are, making it harder and harder to stay grounded.
The longer we ignore the weeds, the more difficult it becomes to extract the weed from our lives with minimal damage. This was my conclusion while I was working in the garden. I realized that for this not to be a back-breaking task, I needed to spend about 30 minutes each week hacking away at new weed growth. If I didn’t, I was going to be spending another couple of hours out in the heat in about a month. And my veggies may pay the price.
In the same way, we need to cut these sneaky weeds out of our lives early, before they have a chance to choke out relationships, thought patterns, and behaviors. It’s a lot easier to spend a smaller amount of time addressing the issues while they are sprouting, than to let them grow tall and plant deep roots. They disrupt a lot more dirt coming out when they’re big.
So what is it that you need to cut out of your life….big or small? Even if it seems like a small issue, don’t let it grow. Explore the Scriptures, and if the thoughts or actions don’t line up with Scripture, fix them before they are big. On the flip side, don’t think that just because something is too big, it can’t be removed. I recently had to take a little hatchet to a weed/tree that I didn’t get rid of quick enough. You may need different tools to remove the big things, but it’s worth it, I promise.
And there is a bigger promise. James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” When we submit to God and pull out those weeds, the devil will run. He knows that with God on our side, he has no power over us. The devil has no choice but to run.
So don’t be afraid to grab a trusted friend, put on some gardening gloves, and go to town on the sneaky weeds in your life. You don’t have to do it alone. And you can attack them in confidence, that the God who created you will be there with you the whole time, ready to shower you with grace and love. And that the weeds you are pulling are absolutely TERRIFIED of the God who is on your side.