Lessons on Zealous Living Learned in the Garden!
Roses are red, violets are blue, but if you want to eat from your flower bed, then vegetable gardening is for you!
Gardening can be a lot of fun too! Especially for your children. Learning to grow their own food can teach them a lot about life and about God. Many are the lessons learned in the garden!
Yes, it is gardening season again! Recently, my father began preparing our family garden spot. In our home, gardening is a full family endeavor. We grow close to an acre of various crops almost every year. In the past, we have had four generations of our family working in our garden at the same time. Can you say, “memories made and shared?” Soon my parents, my wife and I, and our daughters will all be planting tender plants and seeding rows, pulling weeds, watering, watching, waiting, and dreaming of the future harvest making its way to our kitchen table.
Beans, beets, and broccoli; cabbage, corn, and cucumbers; lettuce and onions; peas, peppers, and pumpkins; spinach, strawberries, and squash; tomatoes and turnips and more are all available to plant and discover in your garden spot. Whether you plant in a large plowed up field or in small containers on your apartment’s balcony, or anywhere in between, you and your children or grandchildren are sure to observe and discover many great truths about life.
Over the next few articles, we are going to share a few ideas of Biblical lessons that you can share with your family while experiencing the joys of gardening.
Lessons Learned in the Garden from Soil
1. Hard Work Is a Good Gift from God.
Preparing the soil to be a place for your garden to prosper can be hard work. But it can also be a place to unwind and destress. When we think of work, we often think of God’s punishment of Adam and Eve in the first garden, the Garden of Eden.
17 “…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Genesis 3:17–19 (ESV)
Yet, work isn’t the punishment, the pain and sweat of work is the punishment. Work itself is good for us. God created work for humanity and humanity for work. In work, God hasn’t decreed that we work while He sits back and watches. Rather, it is important for us to remember the work that He has already done in Creation, the work that He continues to do in sustaining Creation, and the work that He is doing to bring us into redemption and future glory, which by the way, He has already done the work of planning out. God is always at work, so we shouldn’t see work as punishment. Instead, we should see it as partnering with God in His work.
13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13 (ESV)
Prior to our fall into sin and our eventual punishment, God had already planned to have humanity experience the gracious gift of work.
Learning to Experience God’s Gracious Gift of Work.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Genesis 2:15 (ESV)
The phrases “work it” and “keep it” are there for our benefit. Work isn’t a punishment, it is a part of who we are. We shouldn’t be afraid of it. Many in our day don’t know what a hard day’s work is really all about. Sadly, they have never had the joy and satisfaction that comes from the completion of a hard day’s work.
Those words work and keep could have another lesson in store for us. The Hebrew word, עבד, from which we get the word “work,” also has the meaning of “worship.” In addition, the Hebrew word, שׁמר, from which we get the word “keep,” also has the meaning of “obey.” So we could say that God put man in the garden to worship Him through his work and to obey Him in keeping the garden prospering. So in gardening, we can worship and obey through our working and keeping of it.
God planned for us to experience the joys of working within His Creation. Gardening is a part of that work. Gardening is a lot like living the redeemed life zealously for Christ. God has prepared good works for those of us who know Him, and we should zealously seek to walk into that work with joy and satisfaction in Christ.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8–10 (ESV)
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Titus 2:11–14 (ESV)
In redemption and restoration, we can walk into our work, hard as it may be, with a sense of satisfaction and joy, knowing that we are fulfilling God’s call in our lives. There is a balsam of contentment in this for our souls. When we understand that hard work is a wonderful gift from God, we can face whatever comes our way with rejoicing. Yet this is only true if we also understand a second lesson from the soil.
2. Like Soil, Our Hearts Need Cultivating
Jesus told several agricultural parables in the Gospels which contain lessons for us about the condition of soil and how it relates to our hearts. If you study Matthew 13 and Mark 4, for example, you will learn about four different soil conditions and how they relate to our hearts. Without the right cultivation of the soil of our soul, we will not fully grasp the work that God wants to do in us and through us. This cultivation occurs in relation to our receptivity to the Word of God.
Cultivating your heart’s soil with the Word of God, you can bear the great fruit of gospel conversations with family and friends while you work and keep the garden. In brief, I have summarized the four conditions of the soil of human hearts below to get you started.
Four Soil Conditions of Human Hearts:
- The hard compacted soil of a life that does not understand the Kingdom of God.
- The rocky soil of a life that happily receives the Gospel, but doesn’t have the nutrients to establish roots in the Gospel.
- The thorny soil of a life that is more concerned with the needs of the world than the power of the Gospel.
- The good soil of a life that understands the Kingdom of God and bears great fruit.
Conclusion: Worship and Obey for There is NO Other Way!
Soil comes in a variety of forms: chalky, clay, peaty, loamy, sandy, and silty. Healthy soil is one of the foundational parts of life itself. Likewise, different soil consistencies can compose the soil of our hearts. The condition of our heart determines our receptivity to the things of God in Christ! The soil of our heart needs to be cultivated, or worked and kept. Oh, how we all wish growing in Christlikeness would happen through osmosis, but alas, the only way is to work and keep, worship and obey. The more we tend the soil of our hearts, the more receptive we will be to receiving the good gifts from above.
Meditate on the condition of your heart’s soil while you garden. Consider the vast amount of details that can relate garden soil to the hearts of those around you. I believe that if you truly meditate on God’s good soil, you will learn many other lessons about the redeemed life as well!
Is your soil joyful and zealous to receive and share what God wants to plant in your heart? Faithfully discharge these wonderful truths with those you love while you work and keep your garden this Spring! Stay tuned for our next few articles, where we will consider lessons learned from seeds, weeds, weather, bugs, harvest, and more. In the meantime, spend a few minutes reading and reflecting upon the passage below.
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Matthew 13:3–9 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.” 1 Matthew 13:18–23 18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” 1 1 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
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