Fighting Sin and Growing Grass

There are several ways we can approach the process of sanctification (growing more and more in godliness). But for our purposes I’ll highlight two – Reactive and Proactive.

Reactive growth occurs when we analyze and pinpoint areas of sin and unbelief in our lives and surgically begin trying to remove them from our lives. Say you struggle with materialism and greed. You might reactively fight those sins by putting yourself on a strict budget and having a friend or spouse hold you accountable to that discipline. Maybe you struggle with lust. Reactively fighting means you install blocking or accountability software on your computer or make a mental note each time you’re tempted walking down the sidewalk so that you can “take every thought captive.”

I could go on, but you get the main premise. According to reactive growth you identify a struggle, decide upon and implement a reactionary method to fight it, and then put that discipline into practice.

Then there is proactive growth. It’s far more difficult to define narrowly, because it’s more general. The basic premise is that if I practice the normal spiritual disciplines that God has given me (community, confession, Scripture reading, prayer, etc.) with a heart that is wanting to want to long for him, growth will naturally occur and the sins I’m tempted with will fade to the background because I want God more and want them less.

There is a place for both types of fighting sin, but let me encourage you to not overlook the importance of proactive growth. Here’s why –

Two background notes that will help you understand where this is coming from.

1. I just laid sod in my yard 6 weeks ago, and have diligently watered and kept a keen eye on it during that time span. 2. I kind of enjoy green grass, colorful flowers, and general horticultural care.

In researching lawn care I came upon something interesting. We all want to have deep green, weed-free lawns (which is sometimes realistic when it’s not 100 degrees for weeks on end). Clover, chickweed, and crabgrass are the saboteurs in this endeavor. So what do we do to remedy the situation? Usually one of two things.

First, you might put down a weed preventer (particularly a crabgrass preventer since it is mighty hard to get rid of mid-season once it’s taken root…that’s probably an important metaphor for something…ah, I’m sure it’s nothing, moving on…).

And second, you may selectively spray weed killer periodically (sometimes called “spot-treating”) as weeds present themselves in the midst of your grass.

Both of these practices, experts will tell you, are needed and wise for those of us in search of a green lawn. But most experts also point out that the biggest weed preventing practice you can implement is to maintain a healthy lawn with plenty of nutrients and water to promote deep roots.

Why? Because when your grass is thick and healthy the weeds we abhor are choked out from the start. They never have the opportunity.

So it can be with spiritual growth. We could focus on “spot-treating” our lives and our sins, which will work sometimes and for a while, or we could focus on setting our roots deep in God’s word and in prayer, so much so that the struggles of this life are exposed for the imposters they are – liars who promise happiness and fulfillment they can never deliver on.

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