Pastor Craig shared the second mental health strategy for us in our series A Christian’s Mental Health. Here is the recap he shared on his blog. You may also scroll down to watch the video of the full message.
When looking at the growth of Jesus, Luke says first that “Jesus grew in wisdom” (Luke 2:52), which is our indication that a healthy mind is the foundation for every other aspect of health.
The first mental health strategy we learned was asking the Holy Spirit to help us see a new path. Instead of thoughtlessly, automatically allowing our minds to go down the well-worn paths they have always gone down before, the Spirit of Truth can help us see a new path. Let me share our second strategy with you.
My wife and I had traveled to a neighboring community and when we got out of our car we saw an unusual sight. First of all, there was dirt and a few weeds where there used to be grass, and then there was this sign in the middle of that dirt field: Keep off the grass. That seemed like really wishful thinking to me! I may not have a green thumb—truthfully I probably have a “black thumb” when it comes to keeping plants alive—but I know enough to say that their grass wasn’t going to grow without a lot of effort.
Weeds grow by apathy, they are removed with continual effort. Fruit-bearing plants grow by careful attention, fertilization, and pruning. So if we don’t put in any effort at all, it’s the same thing as fertilizing the weeds.
Solomon made this observation: I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds and the stone wall was in ruins (Proverbs 24:30-31).
Without effort on our part, weeds take over, sap the nutrients, and take up the space that could be used for fruit-bearing plants.
Jesus talked about this in His parable of the sower—
A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 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. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. (Matthew 13:3-8)
When Jesus says that the thorns grew up and choked the plants, He uses a Greek word that means overwhelmed or suffocated. It’s the same word that is translated as drowning (see Luke 8:33). What weeds do to our gardens, weed thoughts do to our minds.
We all know that when we see a weed pop up above the ground, there is a root below the ground that is supporting it. The sooner we pull that weed, the more likely we are to remove the troublesome root as well.
What about our minds? What are the roots? Jesus identified the roots this way: For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander (Matthew 15:19). Jesus taught that we murder, commit adultery, lust, and slander in our hearts long before it ever happens in our words or physical actions.
So when a “weed word” pops out, what do we do? If we do nothing, we fertilize that weed. If we ignore it, we allow that weed to strengthen its hold and begin to choke out the fruitful plants. If we simply say, “Oops, that was a slip of the tongue; I’ll do better to control it next time,” we haven’t pulled the weed, but we’ve fertilized it.
Remember that weeds flourish by apathy, but fruitfulness requires effort.
Back in the parable of the sower, what is the difference between the seed among weeds and the seed in fertile soil? It’s simply the presence of weeds or thorns! If we allow the Holy Spirit to help us pull the weeds, we’ve increased the amount of ground that can be fruitful and produce a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Jesus concludes by reminding us that our ears need to hear—we need to hear His words, and we need to hear our own weed words that don’t align with His words. Then we have a choice: apathetically let the weeds remain, or allow them to be pulled up.
Allow me to share my paraphrase of a passage in Hebrews 12—
My son, do not make light of the Lord’s pruning, and do not lose heart when He weeds your mind, because the Lord prunes the one He loves, and He weeds the garden of everyone He accepts as His son so they can be more fruitful. (my paraphrase of Hebrews 12:5-6)
Our mental health matures when we acknowledge the word weeds we are shown, and then quickly allow the Father to prune those. The Holy Spirit can continue to help us weed the soil of our minds so that it remains a fertile growing place for the seed of God’s Word. By doing this, we will grow in God-pleasing fruitfulness.
If you would like to download the graphic of this reminder for your phone, simply leave me a comment with the model of the phone, and I’ll get the right-sized graphic right out to you. And if you missed the first message in this series, you can review that lesson by clicking here.