For the earth which drinks the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful to those by whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed,whose end is to be burned. – Hebrews 6:7-8
The bible compares men’s hearts to the land of the earth. Just as the land can produce good things, like wheat and fruits, so can the heart of man produce good things-like joy and peace and love. But just as the land can produce bad things, like thorns and briers, so can the heart of man produce bad things-like hatred, bitterness, and strife. God provides the rain and the seed, but the determining factor on whether the land produces good or bad is how the land is cultivated–so it is with our hearts.
I like to think about it in terms of a garden. Most of us have seen a garden or worked in a garden. We’ve seen beautiful gardens, and we’ve seen gardens that haven’t been well attended. The most beautiful and fruitful gardens are the ones that are well maintained. But the garden of a lazy man is all grown over, choked out by weeds, eaten up by bugs and pests, and scorched by the sun. That garden becomes an eyesore, an undesirable place, a spot that would have been better off left as grass or natural woods.
Our hearts are God’s garden. The management of our hearts has been entrusted to us, and God expects us to care for it in such a way that it produces good things. Those good things will result in blessing to God, to us, and to all those around us. But if we neglect to properly maintain our hearts, evil things will grow…without effort. Gardens do not remain neutral; something will always grow.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out if it spring the issues of life. – Proverbs 4:23
The Word of God instructs us to be diligent keepers of the garden of our hearts. We must daily seek to fill it with good things, and keep from it the evil things; for out of your heart springs forth the issues of life. What’s in your heart will ultimately come out, whether good or evil.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. – Matthew 12:35
The blessing of God comes upon the heart that produces what is good and useful, but the heart that brings forth evil is near to being cursed, and, in the end, is subject to eternal burnings. This is a stern warning to the people of God. Those that do not watch diligently over their hearts are in danger of a curse, and, ultimately, damnation. The seriousness of this ought to cause us to reflect deeply upon the condition of our hearts. Are our hearts in such a condition that we would be pleased if Jesus were to return now to claim its fruits? Or would we be ashamed at His coming?
In light of this, we ought to take careful measures to ensure the good condition of our heart. How can we do this?
- Examine your heart carefully. Have you taken a full inventory of your heart? Is there anything there that ought not to be? Bitterness? Hatred? Lust? Envy? Is there secret sin that you try to keep hidden from God and man? Root it out with sincere repentance. Determine, with the help of God, to be done with anything and everything that is contrary to the will of our God.
- Do not neglect the means of grace. By this I mean that you should alway show due diligence to be in the place that God has designated to dispense his blessings. Just as a garden should be placed in such a location that would ensure rain and sunshine, so we must put ourselves in the place of God’s spiritual blessings. This would include the regular gathering of the saints for worship (church service), listening to the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, personal study, and prayer. These are the ways God has chosen to strengthen and bless us. Root out anything that would hinder you from keeping these regular duties.
- Filter what you allow in. Daily we make decisions about what we see and hear, and who we engage with. Ungodly words and images are seeds that make their way into the garden of our hearts. These seeds can grow into evil desires, which lead to sin. And sin, when it is fully grown, produces death (James 1:15). Because we live in a sinful world, we cannot stop this completely, but we can certainly limited it. And if these evil seeds do make it into our hearts, we must go back to rooting them out.
One can easily see how an unkept garden produces thorns and briers. No effort needs to be made to bring about these wretched plants. But a beautiful garden, a garden that produces good fruits, must be carefully maintained. It takes purposeful planning, and thoughtfulness. It will not produce good things on its own. This is precisely the way of our hearts.
Remember that a blessing from God is upon those who properly maintain their hearts, so we must be diligent to maintain it well; but a curse is upon those that neglect it. Let us be warned that to allow evil seeds to grow in our hearts is not an acceptable lifestyle choice. God will come to claim the fruit that is rightfully His, but a heart found full of useless briers will be cast in the fire. Amen.
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