To continue with the gardening allegory, if you don’t mind, we move from weeding and pruning to maintenance. Wouldn’t it be great if we only had to do the weeding once in the Spring, then watch the plants grow and flourish? Of course we know that is not happening. Regular maintenance is necessary to ensure the plants can become as fruitful (or flower-ful) as they are meant to be. Weeds keep popping up, uninvited, and insisting on growing where they are not wanted. Does that not sound like life? We have been forgiven of our sins. You repented of your sins when you received Christ as your Lord and Saviour. Yet, those sins, and others, keep popping up, threatening to ruin the crop of godly fruit that God desires to see in your life.
Philippians 2:12-13 tells us, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” We are to continue the process of ‘weeding’ out sin in our lives, because as long as we are living in this sin-sick world, it will keep popping up. There is that constant battle between the old sin nature and the new godly nature. It isn’t enough to just feed the godly nature (which we struggle enough to do), but we must also starve and pull out the sin nature. The motivation given here is ‘fear and trembling’ coming from the knowledge that the result of the old nature winning is death. The verse then reminds us that it is God, the gardener, who does the work in you. So, will you allow the gardener to continue removing the weeds?
When is the last time you confessed sin to God? It is a question that struck me the other day. I think sometimes we get lulled into thinking that once we are Christians, we don’t need to confess sin anymore, at least not unless it is a big sin. It is true that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9). It is also true that He removes our sins (the ones we repented of, not just sorry for) as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12). 1. Awareness: Yet you need to ask God to keep you aware of sins in your life, and then confess them, no matter how small. 2. Repentance: Then we must rely on the Holy Spirit to help keep that sin from returning. This is what discernment is all about. God helps us, by His Spirit in us, to recognize the signs of a returning sin, and enables us to put a stop to it. 3. Persistence: Satan and his minions will not give up trying to distract and destroy us, until he is thrown into the lake of fire. Therefore, you must not give up seeking to live for God, which includes repenting of your sins. 4. Confidence: God seeks to give you confidence. He does this by reminding you that nothing can separate you from His love (Romans 8:38-39), assuring you that there is no end to His forgiveness as long as you ask for it (Hebrews 4:16), and promising that the Holy Spirit will empower you to keep defeating the enemy’s schemes (John 16:7-15).
A final reminder I would like to give is this, the maintenance is of the soil, not the fruit bearing plant. If you have given your life to God, then He is the gardener that will perform the work of maintenance in your life, but you must let Him! Pray for discernment, and seek to repent of your sins every day. That way the Spirit of God can do the work of tending the garden of your soul, helping you bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control (Galatians 5:22-23). If you insist on maintaining your life where it is, then you are stopping the Holy Spirit from removing the weeds, and your faith will get choked out!!! There must be growth, or your faith will die. So, do your part in allowing God to bring growth and fruit. Like the old song goes, Read your Bible, Pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow. Don’t forget to repent of those sins.