Are you a gardener? I am not, I will readily admit. One season, in a fit of enthusiasm, I purchased some tomato seeds and planted them in small containers. They were put in sunny spot and were watered regularly. I told everyone to be ready for my Big Boy tomatoes. As they grew, I eagerly staked them and watched over them like a mother hen. One day, I checked on my baby tomatoes and discovered some other plants were taking over my tomatoes crop. I spent the rest of the summer until harvest time, on my knees grumbling as I pulling weeds. I pulled a mess of weeds and two days later more showed up. My persistence payed off that fall with some juicy bright red tomatoes. And Yes, I will plant them again. Even with the hard work those tomatoes cost me, they were worth it! Your own tomatoes taste juicier than those grown for the grocery store and they are better for you. Truth be told, it is a lot more fun bragging about your own tomatoes than those bought at Kroger!
Isn’t that a bit like growing the seeds God plants in our lives? We receive the Word with enthusiasm and eagerly anticipated the harvest. But somewhere along the way, the weeds and thorns begin to grow in our lives and become a threat to the growth of the Word. You just can't stand by and expect your faith to grow. It becomes obvious, looking at your faith is not the same as growing your faith. In fact, if you don't go something there is a real risk your faith may not grow at all!
The weeds of life bring a harsh reality to growing your faith. Those weeds spring up in to the most unexpected places. Your are attending a gathering when across the room you spot the one person you dislike the most. The one who hurt you. The one who caused the most pain you have ever experienced. There they are laughing and joking as if they are throwing the hurt right back at you. They are so smug. You feel the pain and hurt as if it happened only yesterday. Your face turns red, your nostrils flare, your fist clinch. Just as you are about to charge forward with every intention of showing them what you think about them, you are stopped by a still small voice, a quite intruder muttering the words you least want to hear, "Love your neighbor as yourself", "Love your enemies", "Love, love, love".
"No", you argue, "I can't love them. They don't deserve my love. They have not earned my love." You negotiate with yourself, "Can't I just dislike them? a lot? I won't hate them but I won't love them either. Surely, that's okay. Right? I'll just tell everyone what they did and everyone else will hate them and I won't be the only one hating them."
And so it goes! The weeds of hate begin creeping into your tomato patch. Each weed saps strength from the tomato. Each weed take valuable nutrients out of the soil, nutrients the tomato needs to grow. Unless...unless you do something drastic! You have to! That tomato plant is too valuable to let the weeds of hate destroy it. And you do something. You fall to your knees and bend over and with your bare hands you pull those weeds away from your precious tomato plant!
The tomato plant is saved for today! And your faith is saved for today! And your faith is re-enforced. And your faith receives the nutrients it needs. And you grow stronger in your faith!.