But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18
Today we come to the final post in our series about the things plants need to grow and thinking about how that applies to us. We started off with the good, rich dirt and how our church can be that nurturing environment. But if the dirt isn’t regularly infused with water, that is the word of God, we will dry out very quickly. That’s not all we need. If the rich dirt is well-watered but shaded, the plant will lose strength and die. So we also need light in the form of understanding and righteousness.
One last thing we need is protection.
Where we live, any number of varmints can wreak havoc on our gardens. Deer, rabbits, crows, and bugs begin their attacks as soon as things begin to get green and they don’t let up for the entire season. They prevent the plants from growing and thriving but they also destroy the fruit and vegetables before we have a chance to pick them.
As believers, we have to protect ourselves from a host of varmints like the ones Paul warned the Colossians about. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Colossians 3:8) If those critters see an opportunity, they will eat away at us, preventing us from growing and from having any fruit.
But in Colossians 3:12-17, Paul lists what we need to keep those pests out. Compassionate hearts
Bearing with one another
Forgiving each other
Love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Then here’s how you put those to use.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Things like anger, malice and slander can’t get through defenses like these.
At the beginning and end of the season and as the plant is just getting started, we also have to protect it from the environment. Frost and strong winds can damage the plant or ruin the fruit. We have to pay close attention to the weather forecast and be ready to put in some extra work to prevent a loss in the garden.
Our culture presents a challenging environment to try to grow believers. Not only is immorality celebrated, but spiritual laziness, materialism, and distraction are constant threats. We have to be prepared to do a little extra work to protect ourselves. Paul advises, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2) We must actively, consistently choose activities and relationships that will help us grow. Spiritual disciplines (hmmm, that might be a good series) and seeking out mentors can protect us from a harsh environment.
So as we think back across the series, take a moment and evaluate your life as a believer. Are you growing? If not, why not? Are you getting plenty of water and light? Are you in good soil? Are you protected from environmental dangers and threats?
Remember Peter’s last recorded words in Scripture. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” That was his great desire for the people he shepherded. Let it be our great desire and prayer for each other.