I am a confessed killer. I drowned, poisoned, and starved my countless victims. The plan was never to cause death. Several times per year, I brought fresh life into my home, hoping it might survive. I tried to reform my ways, but one of my houseplants clings to its last few leaves at this very moment. I cannot seem to escape my nature as an herbicidal maniac.
Denial wouldn’t cover my iniquities. The remnants of our lawn testify against me. Clumps of grass despair among encroaching weeds and chinch bugs. My deadliest behavior, on display for the neighborhood, is neglect.
Devastating to plant life, neglect also threatens deeper areas of vitality. Hearts, minds, and spirits require careful nourishment, but complacency yawns at spiritual gardening at turns its head aside. Corrosive agents abound in our environment, poised to ravage the untended soul.
We must cultivate healthy growth. Fruitful seeds don’t grow wild in the spirit. They must be planted. Watered. Centered in the sun’s powerful light.
Certain spiritual seeds boost the soul’s growth more than any other traits we can cultivate. None of these ‘super-seeders’ require money, intelligence, or talent. Anyone can plant them, but we must choose to take the time.
I own gobs of costume jewelry. Plastic gems look beautiful, yet bear no intrinsic value. Tarnishing edges soon offer evidence of a ring’s true metal. Though less abundant, real jewels shine with the same quality from surface to core. The surface gleam of a precious metal doesn’t hide inner frailty.
While an honest person speaks the truth, integrity requires living the truth. Noble character chooses to do the right thing regardless of who notices. Return the extra change to the cashier. Let the man with a cane take your place in line. Extend grace at home and on the road.
Integrity won’t sprout on its own. We must plant the seed and let the hindering shell of excuses die away. It’s easy to hold onto those limiting thoughts that no one cares, it’s just this once, or it doesn’t matter. But we must kill the hull.
To nurture integrity, we must water it by looking for opportunities to do the right thing. Every day. Throughout the day.
Then, we can watch the beautiful fruit of our souls grow to bless the world.
Love stretches the soul into a canvas and invites art to flourish upon it forever. Compassion represents the medium of love through which we value others’ perspectives. In blessed moments, the Lord offers us His eyes and we can see another person’s heart. But our own hearts must not harden, or we’ll miss love’s beautiful gifts.
Compassion isn’t justifying or condoning. We don’t need to agree with how our neighbors live to care about their feelings. If we peer for a moment into the eyes of those around us, we can see they have spiritual significance. Just as we do.
Caring for the soul inside the neighbor’s earth suit expands our hearts. When we consider how others feel, the shell of self-righteousness falls away. Then our soul sprouts. Lovely blossoms unfold and we bear fruit to bless the world.
C.S. Lewis gilded the world with many priceless quotes and these words remain among my favorites, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
Humility opens our eyes to a renewed sense of purpose. Buckets, pitchers, and cups offer little value when serving themselves. Vessels, all shapes and sizes, must serve to fulfill their destiny. As spiritual vessels, we were created to pour our blessings into those around us. Whatever shape or size, each of us can satisfy a need.
Servanthood will not sprout in the rocky soil of our natural attitude. The soul must be cultivated with a decision to serve others. When planting a servant nature, the hull of selfish ambition must decay. The servant nature requires nurture to sprout. Water the seed by looking for opportunities to bless, help, and serve throughout the day. Weed out tendencies to enable loved ones to persist in toxic behavior. Create ample room for true service to flourish with fruit to bless the world.
Without faith, hope is doomed. A hopeless soul despairs, as if life were prolonged death. Souls need faith to survive the encroaching decay of this broken earth. True hope requires a faith which transcends time and circumstances. This seed exceeds the potential of all other avenues of growth, promising infinite possibilities. Faith transforms, sustains, and empowers life.
Belief shatters the imprisoning hull of fear and doubt. When watered with fellowship, inspiration, and prayer, faith grows the soul beyond its own capacity. The faith-bearing soul overflows with sacred fruit to bless the world.
Which seeds will you cultivate in your soul this week? I’d love to hear your stories.