These white things, which remind me a little of baby's breath but without the profusion of blooms, have just about taken over the field south of the garden, and threatened to take over my carefully planted wildflower patch. They nearly covered a spot about eighty by thirty, a little wider in some places, a little narrower in others. I stood there looking at that wave of white and thought, "I could never pull up all those weeds." But then I thought, "Well, maybe not in one day."
That was four days ago. Since then, after my morning elliptical walk, I have gone outside and pulled a swathe from west to east, then back from east to west, every day. That's about all this old lady can stand, especially in the Florida sun. In fact, coming back to the house, though only a slight grade uphill, felt more like a forty-five degree mountain.
The first day, the only way I could tell I had done anything was my aching back. But by the beginning of the third day, the browning piles of discarded weeds encouraged me on an extra half hour. And today, watching what was left of that white patch get smaller and smaller, kept me at it until it completely disappeared.
Was it easy? No. Not only did my back give me grief, but a time or two I didn't pay enough attention and grabbed a blackberry vine along with the weed, ripping my hand with its thorns.
Did I completely rid myself of those unwanted weeds? No. In fact, this morning I was greeted by a couple of new ones in places I had already worked, probably because of a seed already planted or a stem I had merely broken instead of pulling up by the roots. But those very few plants were obvious in that clean expanse of green and quick and easy to pull.
And then, of course, there is the neighbor's property just over the fence, and he obviously doesn't care if he has a field full of white weeds which will inevitably spread our way unless I keep on top of it every time even one of them jumps the fence.
So what is the lesson today? Don't listen to the nay-sayers, the ones who tell you that you will never be able to overcome sin, that even the best of us "sins all the time." Deity did not become flesh, live a humiliating life and die an ignominious death so we could all continue "sinning all the time!" Anyone who tells you otherwise, leaving you discouraged and ready to quit, is a minister of Satan not the Lord.
You may start out with a field full of white weeds that looks invincible. Just work at it every day, yanking those tares out of your heart one by one. Will it be easy? Paul said that even he had to "buffet my body to bring it into subjection" 1 Cor 9:27. It is hard work, but stop once in a while and measure your progress. Pat yourself on the back just once or twice, and then get back to work before you get too full of yourself.
Am I saying that it is really possible to overcome temptation, to grow spiritually to the point that you sin less and less? No, but God is:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1Cor 10:13).
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey the lusts thereof: neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (Rom 6:12-13).
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Rom 6:1-2).
My little children, these things write I unto you that you may not sin… (1John 2:1).
And I could fill up pages with these things!
Will you still slip occasionally? Probably, just like those white weeds still pop up here and there once in a while. Sometimes a seed was sown or a root left in the ground. But if you don't think it is possible to improve, that after twenty or thirty years you are still "sinning all the time," something is wrong. Maybe it is a faulty definition of sin; maybe you are deceiving yourself about how hard you are really working at it; maybe you have so saturated yourself with the Calvinistic doctrine of total depravity that your friends, the television evangelists, and most of the commentaries espouse—the ones you think are harmless and "say some really good things"--that you can't see the truth God has written for you.
So start pulling your weeds today. The first step is the most painful—really looking into our hearts and identifying the things we need to fix--specifically. Then get to work, little by little, one day after the other, with determination and steadfastness. You CAN do it, because the one who has the power to raise Jesus from the dead is helping you.
Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, (Eph 1:18-20).