An area planted with trees, shrubs, vegetables or flowers and often surrounded by a stonewall or thorn bushes. Vineyards often had watchtowers so the keeper could protect the crops (Mk 12:1).

There are two notable gardens mentioned in the Bible: 1/. The Garden of Eden in which Adam and Eve lived until they sinned (Gen 2:8-3:24). 2/. The public garden of Gethsemane on the outskirts of Jerusalem, in which Christ was arrested before His crucifixion (Mt 26:36; Mk 14:32).

The word garden is also used figuratively – indicating prosperity, fruitfulness and spirituality – like a well-watered and cared-for garden as opposed to infertility and spiritual barrenness if it is not (Ps 1:3; Isa 1:30, 58:11; Jer 31:12).

The inner garden

The secret depths of our soul or heart is sometimes compared to a garden, with the Lord being the gardener who secretly enters, cultivating, planting, weeding, and nourishing the growth in anticipation of the harvest that will result in Him being glorified. No one is aware how much He labours in our life – but the results show. Do I allow Him access and co-operate with Him in a one-on-one basis to bring

What kind of crop do I allow to grow within?

forth an abundant harvest to bless others? It is essential we allow Him to what He sees is best and so remain in Him for apart from His enablement we can do nothing (Jn 15:5). Our inner man is capable of growing desirable or undesirable crops and often there is a combination of good and bad (Gal 5:15-23; Jas 3:9-12).

We are each responsible to take care of our heart, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov 4:23). Keeping our heart in a God-honouring way requires diligence – Bible reading, private and corporate prayer, worship, obedience to God, caring for the needs of others, sharing Christ with others, giving to the Lord’s work, fellowship with God’s people – the living out of the Christian faith. We are to respond to the Spirit’s nudges and exercise self-control, uprooting that which God did not plant is critical to protecting and maintaining the garden of your heart in a healthy state. An unkempt neglected garden is an eyesore of overgrown weeds.

The good seed is God’s Word, but in order for it to grow in the heart, it must be planted (Ps 119:11). Jesus told a parable of four types of soil (Mt 13:3-9,18-23; Mk 4:1-9; Lk 8:5-15). One was hard and unreceptive to the seed (His Word). Another only had a shallow depth of fertile soil, and so the old resistant-to-God life soon determined the outcome. The response of the third type also did not

For good seed to grow it must be planted

produce a crop, being overcome with the cares and desires of this world. The spiritual life being over-shadowed by the visible demands of the here and now. The fourth type of soil was well prepared and the seed not only sprouts but comes to maturity, producing a crop because of the long-term commitment to hear and obey.

To be productive, we must co-operate with Jesus to break up the hard impervious areas within – not just superficially but deep down and remain pliable to the Lord. God gives His children a new, soft heart but we must continue to work on it (Ezek 36:26). Then as the seed is planted, we must accept it, personalizing and obeying the Scriptures so they take root in an environment conducive to growth. We must get rid of the destructive weeds of unforgiveness, painful memories hurts, fears, ungratefulness, bitterness, and distorted views of ourselves or God. The Bible says put to death the old life and put on the new (Gal 5:24; Eph 4:22,24; Col 3:5). By being in authentic fellowship with God’s people, others can help us spot weeds we might miss.

When we fill our gardens with good thoughts and activities, it’s harder for the weeds to find room to grow (Phil 4:8). A well-tended garden (both in the natural and spiritual realm) is captivating and brings joy to others and glory to the gardener. Do you desire to produce an abundant harvest of good results so your lifestyle brings glory to God? If we receive and obey the Word, we will experience results, positive changes, and forward motion in our life, with the level of productivity dependent on the condition of our heart.

See also: co-operation, Eden (Garden of), gardener, Gethsemane, heart, inner man, input, put off/put on, spiritual disciplines, thinking/thoughts.