I was preaching on Matthew 5:27-30 today and used an extended illustration of the health of the lawn being analogous to the health of the human heart.
I know it is hard to imagine this at the moment but try to think back to the hot summer months in sultry heat (!), enjoying the lushness of the garden, with a gentle hum of electric fly mowers in the background.
It can be quite irritating to have the peace and quiet of summer shattered by lawn mowers, but I suspect that many people mow their lawn frequently as a fairly fool proof way of making the garden look nice and well tended.
At the heart of the growing season, if you leave your lawn for little more than a week tell-tale signs of its true nature will be revealed. This is certainly true in my case. If I fail to mow regularly, the apparently lush, well tended lawn shows its true nature – dandelions begin to sprout yellow and eventually shower umbrella seed replicating themselves all over the lawn. Big green dock leaves shade the delicate grass. Untendered weeds spoil what initially appeared to be a lush lawn.
You see the problem with only cutting the grass is that it deals superficially with the weeds. It doesn’t deal with root causes. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount tells me that I must not live the Christian life at the level of superficial appearances. I can fool other people most of the time; I can fool myself some of the time; but I can never fool God
There are two more fundamental care issues related to my lawn which need attending to if I am going to have a healthy lawn – they involve feeding the soil and weeding out the roots of the intruder!
Feeding your spiritual lawn means tending your heart. Psalm 119:9-11 this:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (NIV)
Tending to the state of the heart needs to happen in order for the Christian to be healthy and pure and not controlled by lust.
Weeding your spiritual lawn requires pulling out sin at its source
Behind adultery lies lust (And behind murder lies anger). In order to deal with lust radical action is required – metaphorically gouging out eyes and chopping of wayward hands. Controlling what we watch and controlling what we do with our hands is necessary for a godly Christian life. If I make myself blind, deaf, mute and paraplegic, yet retain my soul then I am of greater value than if I have a beautiful body and prefect facilities yet corrupt my soul…
As ever, Jesus’ words challenge and provoke. But a godly life is a healthy life and, moreover is the only way to avoid hell!
See www.simonvibert.com for full sermon.