Sermon Illustrations


Suppose 2 women were planting a vegetable garden. On the same day, they prepared the earth and planted their seeds. One then neglected her garden and waited for her vegetables to grow.

The other woman worked in her garden regularly. She put cages around the young tomato plants, she drove in sticks beside those plants that were going to grow up high, and she put netting around plants that were particularly attractive to rabbits and other animals.

Several months later the 2 women went out for the harvest. One found tomatoes rotting on the ground, weeds that were choking most of the carrots – many of which had been raided by birds and squirrels. She pulled up only a handful of food and figured that planting a garden wasn’t worth it – the food wasn’t as good, the harvest was small, and, well, grocery stores were so much more convenient.

Her neighbour, however, harvested basketful of good vegetables every other day, which had a better taste than those in the grocery store. She figured that, when everything was added up, she probably saved a good 20% on her grocery bill each month.

Both women planted, but only one tended. There are Christians who have committed their lives to following Christ at about the same time; but the influence this ‘tending the garden’ commitment had on their lives soon became clear.

One lives a life of self-centredness. Christianity makes sense, but it becomes almost a convenience - no need to take it too seriously or to reorder one’s life around it.

Another person, however, takes it seriously. She makes an effort to study the Bible, and worship the Lord regularly. She keeps her prayer life fresh. And soon people are asking her for advice and help. She becomes a blessing to many. She has a ministry almost by accident.

Both planted a spiritual garden, but only one tended. If we tend our garden, we will have plenty of food with which to feed others. If we give our garden just superficial attention, we may have enough food just to feed ourselves. If we completely neglect our garden, we are going to be so hungry, we need to feed off others; we need others to help us because we are weak.

... Gary Thomas, Sacred Pathways: Discovering the Soul's Path to God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, 2000), 215-216, 220.

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