In getting ready for the Glyndley Manor ‘Open Afternoon’ we noticed that a small hedge, planted last year as part of a patio by the new lift building, was looking decidedly unhappy. It was suggested that we purchase some new plants to replace some of the existing ones, to make it look a bit better. So we did. While digging out the old plants, although they’d only been planted one year ago, we found they’d been planted in shallow soil that lightly covers the rubble underneath. (This rubble forms the foundation of the patio). In one area there was a large lump of solid lime, only a few centimeters below the root ball of the baby hedge plant, and the little plant didn’t like it at all. In order to replace the plant we had to dig round it, extract the offending rock and several other bits nearby, and then put back good soil to root the new plant in.
There’s a parallel with our Scripture passage today from the story of the sower. ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root’ (Matthew 13:5-6).
Spiritual growth can’t happen when there’s insufficient depth of nutrient below it, and when there are harmful ‘rocks’ in our lives. For those of us who are older in the faith there may have been a long-term process of ‘soil improvement’ going on. For so many younger believers however, the ground may be insufficiently prepared for their growth.
Those of us who’ve had a few more years of Christian experience and growth have a responsibility to help the younger generations of Christians to become mature. This may require providing support and spiritual ‘compost’ or food to them, out of our own experience and understanding of Scripture. There may also be times when we need to be on hand to assist in the process of digging out harmful obstructions to development, such as ungodly hidden behaviours, generational sinful influences, or even demonic activity. Of course such ministry needs to be properly carried out and under right authority.
Our little hedge plants will one day grow into a strong bush and fulfil the plan the gardener had when he put them in place originally, but it has and will continue to take effort to ensure good growth. Similarly as mature believers, we must be ready to assist younger Christians in their growth in Jesus, even though it may cost us in time and effort.
Prayer: Father God, we thank You that You are the ultimate Gardener, and You know just what we need for life and growth. Help those of us who’re more mature in Christ to take the time to help new believers. Help us to make their spiritual growth more effective by supporting them, so they can deal with the hidden things preventing their development, even though this may take time and effort. We recognise the responsibility we all have to build one another up in our faith and to deal with the obstructions in our lives. Amen.
"When the sun came up the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no roots."
Matthew 13:6, NIV
John Berry has recently stepped down from the full time team at Ellel Glyndley Manor, where he has been involved for almost seven years, before which he pastored UK Baptist churches for 30 years. He continues on the Associate Ministry and Teaching teams at Glyndley Manor, where his wife Jennie continues on team. They have been married for nearly 43 years and have seven grandchildren. John is also an elder in a local church.
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