A few weeks ago while I was observing the phlox that surround my deck, I noticed some tall plants among them that had not yet blossomed. I suspected that they were weeds and wanted to pull them up. My husband said, “Oh, don’t pull them up, they might be flowers.”
“No, they are not flowers,” I said. “I’m sure that they are weeds, but if you don’t think so, I will leave them alone.”
A few weeks later, these “flowers” started blossoming. At the same time, my husband started experiencing allergy symptoms. I told him that the plant he called a flower was goldenrod. “It’s the same thing as ragweed which is a common allergen,” I said.
“You can pull them up,” said my husband.
To make sure that my “goldenrod is the same thing as ragweed” statement was correct, I decided I better check it out. Much to my surprise, I found out that I was wrong! Goldenrod is not usually an allergen; it actually has medicinal benefits.
In the garden of our hearts, many thoughts have been planted. Some of them are “flowers” and some of them “weeds”. It’s important that we correctly identify them. The flowers will produce lovely perfumes—feelings and attitudes that make our lives healthy and attractive to others. Feelings such as peace, joy, and hopefulness—and attitudes such as patience, gentleness, and gratitude grow from flowers.
The weeds will produce allergens—feelings and attitudes that make our lives miserable and unattractive to others. Feelings such as anxiety, discouragement, and anger—and attitudes such as discontentment, resentment, and contempt grow from weeds.
Unfortunately, we are not very accurate when it comes to discerning between the weeds and flowers in the garden of our heart. We might wrongly call a flower a weed, or a weed a flower. Sometimes, when we suspect that a thought might be a weed, we feel embarrassed about it and pretend that it’s not there. Why can’t we tell the difference between a flower and a weed? And why are we not honest about which is which?
According to God’s prophet Jeremiah, our “heart [garden] is hopelessly dark and deceitful,a puzzle that no one can figure out” (Jeremiah 17:9 MSG).
Therefore, without some outside help, it’s impossible for us to accurately identify the thoughts planted in our hearts. But help is available! God, the expert Gardner, can easily tell the difference between flowers and weeds. He is always aware of what we are thinking; even when we are far away from him, he knows our thoughts. (Psalm 139:4)
Without our permission, he will not enter our garden; but if we invite him to come in, he will gladly show us where the weeds are and where the flowers are. Yet, he so deeply respects us that he does not take over our garden and pull up our weeds. He gives us the strength we need to do it, ourselves. He also assigns us the responsibility.
We must guard our hearts from weeds, for what is in it determines our destiny. In neglected gardens, weeds flourish and flowers die. I hope that, along with me, you will not let that happen.