Church work is like gardening (2 Timothy 2:6), without the bib overalls and straw hat.
The seed is the Word (Luke 8:11).
Preachers are patient laborers (James 5:7), seeking to bring their produce to harvest (Matthew 9:37-38; Matthew 13:30).
Making a good garden is dependent upon several factors–the right seed, proper fertilizer, sufficient water, warm sunshine, insect control and periodic weeding, etc. (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Joe Neal Pinion, my old gardening buddy over in White, Georgia, used to laugh and say, “Mike–growing a garden isn’t just about pulling weeds.”
His humor had a point.
Having spent considerable time in my own vegetable garden and having observed other growers and their produce, I can attest to the truthfulness of his statement.
Pulling weeds is but one aspect of what a gardener must perform.
Respectfully, I wish some of my fellow “gardeners” could learn that lesson.
To read from the pen of some of my brethren, you would think that weed pulling–i.e., exposing false teachers and false teaching–is a preacher’s sole responsibility; it is THE gospel.
Virtually every issue of their bulletin or paper is devoted to “weed-pulling” and little–if anything–is written from the vantage point of optimism or encouragement.
Please don’t misunderstand here–left unchecked, the weeds of false doctrine can choke a congregation and MUST be pulled up (Titus 1:10-11; Romans 16:17, 18; 2 John 9-11; Matthew 7:16-18) in order to ensure the garden’s growth (2 Peter 2:2; 3:18).
However, a preacher-writer who devotes 98% of his energies to condemning wrong will never produce the kind of soul-harvest the Master husbandman requires (Hebrews 5:14).
It is impossible to grow a garden by simply pulling up weeds.
Yes, weeds can choke plants and rob the soil of important nutrients, but if the full range of garden tending efforts are neglected, the herbage will eventually wither and die.
And if somehow it survives this imbalanced treatment, it will be incapable of yielding fruit (John 15:16; Romans 7:4).
Where are the articles about the joy of Christian service?
Where are the lessons about the blessings of our fellowship?
Where are the sermons addressing the good things about the Lord’s church?
Where are the literary treaties on what is positive about the Christian life?
Where are the essays concerning basic, Bible doctrine and how to be saved?
(If a preacher isn’t careful, he can prefer condemning to saving–Jonah 3-4; Luke 15:25-32).
The Bible says the “sum” (not some) of God’s word is truth (Psalm 119:160 ASV).
It is not a matter of “either or” brethren, but “both and.”
The sole purpose of teaching through the printed page and internet should not be merely to denounce and attack denominational error and or liberalism.
This is to be but a part of the whole commission we are to fulfill (Matthew 28:20).
Paul himself said that his gardening efforts involved a complete balance.
“For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27; cf. 2 Timothy 3:16).
Those of us who preach through the printed media and internet might do well to heed the advice of one Christian educator of the past who challenged his young students to leaf through their Bibles and underline those passages which they seldom or never addressed and then preach on them.
Note Paul’s example, “…I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you…” (Acts 20:20).
Joe Neal was right–good gardening requires a comprehensive approach.
It’s not just about pulling weeds. May God help us to keep this in mind as we declare the wonderful word of God.
“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!” – Mike