Saturday, May 26, 2012

Spiritual Cultivation by Martin Wiles

My garden is plowed but nothing grows. And with good reason. Nothing is planted. 

I grew up around gardens and have always intermittently gardened myself. My grandparents had them, and most parishioners in my father’s churches did as well.

I’m most familiar with my paternal grandfather’s. He spent a great deal of time cultivating his garden. Preparation for planting involved tilling, spreading fertilizer and purchasing seeds and plants. Maintenance required hoeing, pulling weeds and spraying for insects. When the fruit was ready, the real work began: picking, digging, snapping, peeling, canning and blanching. Once after watching me sweat in the garden, my father-who wasn’t a gardener, said: “I could go to the market and buy it cheaper.” He was right but that avoided cultivation.

Paul reminds us spiritual lives must be cultivated like gardens: Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

Improper cultivation in gardens produces weeds, bugs, worms, and involves using chemicals that result in unnatural ripening. Failing to cultivate my spiritual life also brings unwanted results. Working out our salvation is not working for it. Salvation is God’s free gift. But once we have it, we must work it out. Gardens produce when worked, muscles form when used and spiritual growth occurs when spiritual muscles are exercised.

Spiritual cultivation involves Biblical meditation, intercessory prayer, building relationships with believers and unbelievers, sharing God’s love in word and action and continually depending on God’s indwelling Spirit. God gifts his children, but having gifts doesn’t mean they are serving his purpose. We must cultivate gifts by developing and using them. How is your garden growing?

Prayer: Merciful Lord, enable us to grow gardens with spiritual fruit that enlarges Your Kingdom.