In the backyard of our house there is a huge overgrown vine. It’s so overgrown that its tendrils are intertwined with the branches of a bush that grows near it. It’s a nice vine, not one that produces fruit though, but it does provide shade. So, this morning with grim determination I set out to tackle the overgrown vine, trim it down to a manageable size, still provide shade but not choke the other bush that also provides shade.
There I was standing on the ladder, secateurs in hand glaring at this huge vine, ready to do battle. After 30 minutes of fighting, grunting and cutting, the vine won but is much less overgrown. It may have won this battle but the war is not over!
So what has this got to do with anything spiritual? You may be thinking, ‘great story Jeff, but so what?’ We have all tackled and lost to overgrown plants in our life. Well, the spiritual part is this- What spiritual vines are overgrown in your life? To put it plainly so that we can all understand (myself included), what are those attitudes in our life that choke those around us? It’s the little things that left unchecked, grow, become so overgrown that they have an adverse effect on those around us and ultimately can choke us.
What is your attitude when someone cuts you off on your way to the shops or work? Do you rant and rave, do sign language and maybe a few choice words? Or how about someone who takes the last roll of toilet paper from the shelf that you had your eye on? Maybe it’s the thoughts that run through your head about a person who just rubs you up the wrong way. These seemingly small things can grow and become a problem that is hard to tackle, just like the overgrown vine.
So what do we do? Well the first thing we should do is ask God to forgive us for our attitudes, and where ever possible seek forgiveness from the person whom you have had an issue with, even if they do not know. As the bible says in Matthew 5:29-30 ‘If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.’
The next step is repentance. But what is repentance? Repentance is a turning away from that which causes you to sin, asking for God’s help in the process. If we ask Him, then He will equip us with the skills, resources, and the people needed to help cut back that overgrown vine. It’s hard by ourselves, but together the task is easier, especially if we put God in charge. Ask Him for wisdom. James tells us in James 1:5 ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.’ If we ask Him, He will give us wisdom on how to tackle these attitudes. Let us not be people who are held by the tendrils of the overgrown vine. Let us, together with the Lord, cut back and uproot that overgrown vine.
In Christ our redeemer Ps Jeff