Whose garden is it, anyway?

Why do we dig in the dirt and lovingly plant gardens? For ourselves?

The reason we take care of our plants in the garden is for our own use and pleasure. However, we must understand and respect the needs of the plant, or our efforts may well be in vain.

God demands respect. He wants us to worship him and is clear in scripture how that is to happen. (Spoiler alert here: it’s all about God, not about us.)

Jesus gravely warned us not to be like some in his generation. “In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrine the precepts of men” (Matthew 15:9 NASB).

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

The scriptures tell us that worship “in spirit” is not enough; it must also be “in truth.” No matter what we feel during worship, we must be more concerned with what God feels. He wants to be worshipped in truth.

This picture is decidedly not like the worship recently described by the wife of a famous “prosperity gospel” preacher. The couple is known for their “positive thinking” message. Lately, this message went far over the line. Mrs. O. stated that we don’t come to worship for God’s sake, but our own. She thinks that this is what makes God happy, when we make ourselves happy.

There are many ways that a garden can fail when it is planted for our own instant pleasure. We have all seen, at the garden centers, potted arrangements of plants which look nice when they are sold, but soon are crowded together until they yellow and die.

Instant gratification is a death knell to a garden. It requires quite an artistic eye to anticipate how plants will grow, and what the garden will look like both now and when it has matured.

Springtime seems to be the prime season for everyone to be interested in planting a garden. People excitedly till up a spot, put in a few things that look nice in April or May, and wonder why everything is brown by July. It is because those perennial flowers that are blooming at the time are not necessarily beautiful all year. The selfish gardener wanted it all to look pretty all at once and is sorry later for her early choices.

Gardeners with lofty ideals based on glib promises will fail when they choose plants that look nice in catalogs but are not suited to the climate where they are to be planted. A responsible nursery or garden center will not sell Edelweiss in Pittsburgh without warning the buyer that the plant may not thrive.

Our activities in horticulture may ultimately bring pleasure to us, but if we don’t have a healthy respect for the way things grow, we will be defeated before we start. In worship, we must respect and revere the object of our worship, even though he ultimately wants to bless us.

The term “worship” in the Greek language literally means to “kiss toward” the object of our devotion. Are we blowing our kisses into the mirror?

Of course God loves us and wants us to be happy. He prepared mansions in Heaven for us, and then sent his own Son to suffer and die to purchase our way into it. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all about us.

We worship God because he is worthy (Revelation 5:12). Our happiness is secondary. Trust God to make you happy eternally. That’s what he does! It’s not really our job.

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