My husband calls it the vine of doom. It is a generic yet invasive plant that without any kind of encouragement or nurture encroaches upon all surfaces – fences, trees, powerlines, bricks.
We cut it back a little the first year we lived here, but it remained far more resolute than we. We only treated the symptoms not the cause.
This year, on a sunny winter day, we began the gritty yet necessary task of pulling it out at the root. For as any gardener knows, if the root isn’t pulled out, it will only continue to grow back.
Jesus presents a similar spiritual idea:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire….
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28
And so the chapter continues. It’s not enough to simply stop the action – God wants a changed heart! It’s the sin kept within our hearts that leads to the sinful actions carried out in our lives!
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. ~ Matthew 15:18-19
We so often allow our sin – a much more invasive and damaging thing than a vine – to remain rooted in our hearts. We might make minor cuts of course, as it winds its tendrils round our lives. And yet, those cuts don’t do the job of killing the root.
That kind of work is gritty and difficult. Just as in the garden, it requires breaking up the earth, tearing it purposefully wide open, exposing the insides. It hurts to dig out the roots of sin. And yet, we must allow the master gardener to do His work.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit ~ John 15:1-2
God helps us dislodge the sin from our hearts, and from that good, freshly turned soil, He brings forth His good, precious fruit.
Photo by Eco Warrior Princess on Unsplash