I’ve been catching up on weeding in the garden the last couple evenings. The garden’s a nice place to be, even if I am bent over picking little weeds out from between even littler seedlings.
The hum of the traffic on the highway provides a backdrop for the birds singing, the neighbor’s tractor mowing, and our dog begging to get out of his kennel so he can trample over all my little plants. Sometimes I listen to a sermon, sometimes I pray, sometimes I just think. This evening I did all three.
I listened to the recording of a talk my son gave at family camp, and thanked God for the work He continues to do in his life. I prayed that my non-swimming married daughter would buy or borrow a life jacket before she goes out in a raft on the lake this weekend (are you reading this, Susannah? ;-)), and I thought about weeds — and sin.
Weeds are so much easier to pull if you can get them when they’re small. You just skim along the surface of the soil with the hoe, and slip in between the plants with a hand tool or fingers to pull the ones that are close to the seedlings. Put off weeding for another week or two, and we’re facing a much more challenging task.
Sin is much easier to deal with when it’s little, too. We need to remember this as we raise our children. It’s much easier to help them uproot a bad attitude or a selfish action when we first see it. Some instruction, consistent consequences, prayer, and lots of love will usually result in repentance and changed hearts.
Ignore those early sins, and like the big weeds that overtake the garden while we spend a few days at the beach, selfishness, disrespect, unkind words, and impatience will send their taproots deeper into the heart, and require greater time and effort to subdue.
Give those sins even more time and they will wrap themselves around us like the bindweed that tangles its way across the entire garden, when given the chance.
Let’s pray for a willingness to deal with sin quickly, first, with the help of the Holy Spirit, diligently weeding it from our own hearts, and then gently and prayerfully helping our children repent and turn from sin before it takes root in their hearts.