Thistles: Pulling Out the Prickly Sins in Our Lives
© 2017 Shelly Beach
Recently I’ve come to enjoy pulling weeds. I’d like to think that this is an indication of growth in character, rather than old age. Luckily, our half-acre yard gives me lots of opportunities to weed, but usually the sun, heat, and humidity discourage me from spending more than a few minutes outside in the summer, due to my health.
On good days I work on one small area near the rose bushes, the garden bench I bought in memory of my mom, or in the back yard flower bed (more weeds than flowers, unfortunately). I enjoy pulling out weeds that come easily, room and all, with one quick tug the most. I don’t mind digging or yanking a bit. I expect a bit of a challenge, but I hate pain, and I certainly don’t choose it for a leisure activity.
I hate thistles the most.
They are prickly, ugly, and grow into monstrosities that are almost impossible to grip without being pierced—even if you’re wearing gloves. For this reason, thistles have been the last weeds in our yard I’ve attacked.
Tending the Garden
Many of us have a regular devotional life. We pray, read the Bible, pray, and even do so on a regular basis. It can be easy to focus on sins that have more shallow roots–the ones that don’t ask us to truly change or look deeply at our motives.
For instance, may drop five dollars in the offering plate but not want to honestly consider sacrificial giving to God.
We may say we forgive a friend but be unwilling to lay down the bitterness in our heart.
Or perhaps we fence off areas of our lives and justify behavior we know contradicts the Word of God, because we want to do what we want. These areas are usually deeply rooted in attitudes and motives that say
Thistles grow in all of our lives,
prickly, ugly sins we don’t want God or anyone to touch.
Weeding thistles takes more work and commitment than pulling out the weeds that have weaker root systems and no protective thorns. The job requires special weed killer, thicker gloves, running the risk of drawing a little blood, and/or the effort of digging down to the roots of the weed.
Pulling out the thistles in my spiritual life has meant committing to honest self-examination and prayer, shifting my focus from other people to myself, focusing on God, and asking Him to change me. It’s meant constantly evaluating my motives and attitudes, and listening to God’s Word and Spirit for direction and correction.
Are negative attitudes, preoccupations, resentments, bitterness, anger, or ungodly behaviors choking your spiritual growth? Ask God to show you where the thistles have taken root in your life. Then pray and seek godly counsel about how best to uproot them.