Growth Requires Care
My wife is a gardener, and I often help her. Every year, she plants a garden with vegetables and strawberries. We till and fertilize the soil, plant seeds and water the garden. God provides the necessary resources for gardening: seeds, soil, air and rain. Even when we use a hose to water, God is still the source. The soil has nutrients divinely provided and the fertilizer also has products that initially came from the Lord’s hands in creation.
God is the source of the material products needed to make a garden grow, but we still have a part to play for the plants to grow. We have to work the soil, fertilize, plant the seeds and water in order for them to grow. If we leave out any of those steps, there is no garden and no growth. We have also noticed that where there is life, there is always growth in healthy plants. If there is no growth, something is wrong with the plant. Sometimes, we get too busy to water enough, and the plant does not grow but shrivels in size. At times, after vacation or camp meetings, the plants suffer because the people responsible for the garden didn’t give it proper care.
There is a similar principle in our spiritual lives as we see in the garden. Jesus often used nature to illustrate spiritual truths. He compared it to good seed sown in the field. It needs to grow up and bear fruit. Jesus said plants grow gradually–first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. He also told us to consider how the lilies grow in terms of comparing our growth in spiritual life. The Bible describes spiritual life as having a birth, growing up to maturity and becoming ripe for the harvest at the second coming. We are born anew of the Holy Spirit; then we need to grow up and mature spiritually. And, as with plants, if there is life, there should be growth spiritually leading to spiritual maturity. And that growth will be continuous all our lives and through eternity. There will be no stopping point. For us spiritually, like in gardening, God provides the resources we need to grow. They come through the power or grace of God given us by Jesus through the Holy Spirit. They come to us as we connect daily with Jesus, in His Word and in prayer, continually looking to Him and drawing strength from Him. Jesus has all the spiritual sunshine, water and fertilizer, or food, that we need and is always willing to supply us with it. But, like in gardening, we must cultivate the soil of our hearts—water it, feed it and expose it to the spiritual sunshine of Christ’s presence.
So, if we find that we are shrinking or not growing spiritually, let us go back to the source and replenish ourselves so we can keep growing to maturity and get ready for the harvest, which is God’s desire and goal for us. In 2 Peter 3:18, the apostle closes his letter about getting ready for the second coming with, “But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Let’s keep growing.
By James Shires, President