When we first moved to our house many years ago, there was a wall which had some attractive plants growing up it. We liked the plants and they looked good, so we let them continue to grow and spread, until the entire wall was covered and the plants had all become entangled with one another. This winter I decided that some drastic action was needed, and I have been cutting back all the growth to expose the bricks of the wall again. However, I discovered that our neglect had caused damage to the structure of the wall, as shoots of ivy had worked their way into the cement and even into the bricks themselves.
As I was pulling off the ivy, God spoke to me about the similarity between this and the unhelpful things that we often allow to take root and grow in our lives, and the damage that these can bring to the life of God in us. These can be specific sins such as resentment, pride or greed, or they can be worldly thinking and fleshly desires, which if left unchecked can spread like damaging ivy on a wall. Often the spread is gradual and therefore we don’t always notice what is happening, but we will eventually find that the good fruit that God wants to produce in our lives is smothered. The foundations of our faith and trust in God will also be undermined.
Paul writes in Colossians that we should put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature. Whatever is put to death will not spread and grow! But whatever we hang on to unchecked from our carnal nature will gradually become stronger in us and will start to take over, like ivy on a wall.
Are there aspects of your old sin nature that need to be rooted out today? Is your desire for holiness being smothered by earthly desires? Let’s do as Paul says and get rid of all that hinders so as to allow the growth of godly character and fruit in our lives.
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