I’ve never been good at growing grass. I could be considered an expert at growing dandelions and other broadleaf weeds, much to the chagrin of my neighbors. One quick look at my lawn a few days after mowing will prove this to you. But if you look at a reasonable distance on the day that I mow, my yard looks pretty good. It’s dumbfounding that my lawn actually won the Sharon Woods Civic Association yard of the month once upon a time. Clearly, I had them fooled (especially since there was a dead squirrel taking up residence in the yard at the time).

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Lawn care takes time and effort. It takes some knowledge, but really not that much. Mostly, it just takes consistent commitment. It’s easy, though time-consuming, to mow the grass (and weeds) in order to present a decent lawn. It’s easy, though slightly more time consuming, to comb through the yard and pick off all the dandelions. But everyone knows, unless you dig out the root, that sucker is coming right back more quickly and stronger than the grass that surrounds it.

But really…this is life. This is the long, slow walk of obedience to Jesus Christ. This is the never-ending experience of putting to death the “old man” while feeding and strengthening the “new man” (Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:5–11).

If you’re anything like me, you’ve become a master at mowing the tops off the ugliness of sin in your life over and over again. Your “lawn” looks really good for those who drive by, and driving by is all you’ll ever allow anyone to do because you know what they’ll find if they were to take a longer look. They’d see the destructive broadleaves and patches of clover that steal your joy each day. And unless the civic association drives by on the day you mowed—and you hope they do—your yard will remain a lonely, frustrated mess.

You know it and I know it. When it comes to weeds and sin, it’s all about the root.

An amazing yard and a life of joy and satisfaction in Christ does not and cannot happen by accident. Sure, it’ll be an ongoing struggle—one that lasts a lifetime—of pulling out “weeds” (not just the tops) by the root. It might take some special tools, it’ll definitely take time, and certainly it’ll take a resolve to fight an ever-raging battle (Hebrews 4:11–16). And if there’s a dead squirrel, you may want to start there.

I want an instantly beautiful lawn. I also want to be a walking-in-step-with-the-Spirit-at-all-times Christian (Galatians 5:16–26). But here’s where the battle for joy and deep satisfaction in Jesus starts. One weed at a time. It starts with one. The enemy wants you to get out the lawn mower and just chop off the top of that pervasive sin. The enemy wants to point you toward your overwhelming jungle of weeds and whisper, “you can’t.” He wants to give you a preview of an upcoming battle and say, “you won’t.” He wants to remind you of your failures and say, “why even try?”

But Christ stands victoriously before you and says, “I’ve already won. Trust Me.” “Deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). It won’t be easy; it’s not supposed to be easy, but it’s worth it.

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Dave Nicodemus is the Communications & Creative Arts Pastor and has served at Grace Polaris Church since 2007, seven and a half of those as the High School Pastor. Dave joined the Grace staff after serving at a church in eastern Pennsylvania. Prior to that, he studied youth and family ministry, minoring in art at Grace College (2001) and completing a masters degree from Grace Theological Seminary (2003). He’s the husband of Carly and father to Jack, Henry, Emilia, and Charlie.