I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
Proverbs 24:30–34 ESV
I’ve always thought about today’s passage in an external sense, rather than about the spiritual life. After all, that’s how it presents itself.
The lazy person reaps ruin while the diligent can expect a healthy harvest.
Simple. Makes sense. It’s a good challenge to keep me working hard and ensure I don’t let myself slack off.
But what if we consider this sowing-and-reaping principle in terms of our spiritual life? Specifically in our relationship with God.
We might not all live in castles or own vineyards, but we do all have the most valuable possession in the world: a human heart, soul, and spiritual life that needs tending.
Which scene resembles your inner quality of life in the following ways:
- Your spiritual life and relationship with the Lord,
- and your relationship with yourself?
If you’re like me, it’s probably a mix of the two.
Tending To Your Spiritual Life
There are places in my relationship with the Lord I can honestly say are well-cultivated.
For me, being in the Bible and in prayer are two places I’ve experienced incredible life. I have also put myself on the line in order to be obedient to his direction—even though it’s been scary and uncomfortable.
It’s a mainstay of my personal relationship with Jesus.
I may not have a heart populated by colonnades and cascading fountains, but there is life there for both myself and for others.
But if I dig deeper:
- What about pride and my desire for recognition and praise?
- What about envy?
- What about my greed?
- What about mean-spiritedness and incessant judgment of other people based on appearances?
- What about how I deal with anger?
- And the list goes on…
You see, the further I look past the well-tended fixtures of my inner life, I notice neglected places and crumbling walls.
I see nettles intruding on flower beds, choking the life out of what is good.
Tending To Your Personal Inner Life
The same goes for my relationship with myself.
- Do I hold myself accountable for my attitudes?
- Do I deal with anger before it blossoms into resentment?
- Am I the same man in private as I am in public?
- Am I cultivating habits that, while not comfortable, will produce life?
- And again, the list goes on…
I encourage you to survey your spiritual life in the same way. Find both areas that are flourishing and those that are crumbling.
How can you be diligent to tend to both? How will you increase fruitful areas while tilling up the weed-infested ones and starting over?
For me, it all starts with a willingness to see reality. So, are you willing to see the real problems that exist in your heart? Are you willing to admit that there are cycles of trouble in your life that don’t stem from everyone else’s actions, but are caused by your own attitudes and dispositions?
Here’s the deal. Until you own the entirety your inner life—the fruit trees and the weeds—you’ll never have the power or clarity to nurture it to its full potential.
So, if you find yourself in a spiritual draught, be diligent in cultivating the places where life can be found.
We can nurture wonderful landscapes within our hearts and minds—but we must do so on purpose. The question today is, are you?