Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:7)
You would not put in all the effort to plant a garden – look for a good location, make a plan, excavate the plot of land, plant, water, nurture and care for your flowers – and then walk away, thinking your work was accomplished and expecting all to go well. Before long, weeds would take over your garden. Growing good gardens is just like growing good relationships; both take time and care – not just once in a while, but daily. When you have done all that is necessary to get your garden started, that is when the work begins in earnest.
Relationships, both your vertical relationship with God and horizontally with other people, are no different. They must be nurtured and cared for daily or weeds will take over the garden.
There are many different kinds of weeds. There are weeds of self-centeredness, weeds of pride and self-righteousness, weeds of anger and apathy, weeds of conflict and control, weeds of bitterness and brokenness — and these are just a few of the various kinds of noxious weeds that grow up in the garden of our relationships. All of them come under the heading of sin. Because we are sinners in need of a Savior, even after we have been saved, we must invest time each day into caring for the relationships that matter most in our lives.
We must take care never to fall into “Sprinkler Head Syndrome,” where much of the water passes over what is closest to the sprinkler head, while that which is further away is watered and growing. It has been well said that “Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.” If you want to receive a harvest from your relationship garden, spend time weeding each day. Put in the hard work of caring and nurturing. But remember, there is a balance that must be cultivated in order to maximize the harvest. If you “over tend” your relationships, you can drive people away; if you “under tend” them, the relationships begin to wither, wander, and die.
The book of James gives us good advice in finding a balance in tending our relationships: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). When others see that we are more interested in what they are thinking and feeling than we are in talking about ourselves, they will want to stay in relationship with us.
How is your garden of relationships growing lately – both your vertical relationship with our Lord and your horizontal relationships with others? Do you need to do any weeding? Do any of those relationships need attention? Remember, you will always reap the results of what you sow and how carefully you care for what was sown.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!