A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:7
I paused to take a picture of a quaint English-style garden in front of a riverside cottage. The beautiful rambling roses, daisies, and black-eyed Susans caught my eye, but it was the sign that compelled me to take a picture: Love Dwells Here. What a perfect place for love to dwell I thought as I snapped the photo. Stepping back, I noticed another sign-this one not so warm and inviting. Keep Out! in bold unfriendly letters looked like a stink-weed in a patch of elegant red roses. How could this gardener reconcile these two messages?
I wonder if, sometimes, as God’s ambassadors of love, we don’t send mixed messages as well. Do you ever tell others about Christ and His love for them but then fail to represent this love to those in need? Do you “preach” to family and friends about their need for God and His forgiveness then hold a grudge against someone close to you? Do you sometimes find it easier to avoid your neighbor rather than extend hospitality to her?
These mixed messages and inconsistent actions are like the garden that invites us with its fragrant vines and then keeps us from entering with a locked gate. Jesus addressed this problem when He told the Pharisees in Matthew 23:13 that they “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men…” Jesus does not want us to be hypocritical in our actions as we represent Him to others.
As you seek God in authentic relationship, pray that He will develop consistency in your life so that you can truly open the gates of your heart and say, “Love dwells here.”
Calling on the Master Gardener: Lord, cultivate in me a pure heart and a consistent spirit. Allow me to bless others and invite them to taste and see that You are good. Give me a spirit of hospitality and love so that I may represent You at all times to all people. I long to be a fragrance of love to those who seek You and a haven of peace for those who need rest. Amen.
Preparing the Soil:
Check for signs in your life. Do they point others to Christ or turn them away?
Does your garden provide the weary traveler a peaceful haven of shade and tranquility or are you shutting out those who need the beauty and love that dwells in you?
Sowing the Word: Do something today to extend God’s grace and hospitality to others. Has God been prompting you to invite a neighbor to dinner or open your home for a small group from church? Maybe he is prompting you to extend forgiveness and renew a relationship that has been damaged?
Establishing Roots: 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, Luke 10:25-37, Hebrews 13:1-2
Garden Wisdom: Make your garden inviting by creating paths for meandering and placing garden benches strategically for rest and meditation. Don’t forget birdbaths, ponds, or fountains for a respite for feathered friends as well.
As you cultivate love, love will grow in your life. Keep growing in love! ~ Mary