Is it not evident in our lives that we were meant to cultivate? I may just be short sighted, but as I look around it seems like we cultivate many of the things around us. After all, human kind was meant to work. Prior to the introduction of sin, God wanted man to work (Genesis 2:15). Not simply have a job, but to develop and protect the things around.
Cultivate is usually a word for farming. It’s to prepare and use land for crops and gardening. Farming is a very labor intensive process. Stewardship is probably a better word to describe what I’m talking about, but I really want to use cultivate because of that labor intensive tone.
We cultivate all sorts of things. One example is our relationships with each other. We grow in depth and knowledge. We care for it when our relationships become sick. We heal from storms, and mourn the death and end of them.
We also cultivate our talents. We may have a knack for something, but we’re not that great unless we practice. Like an athlete, we adjust our talents as our lives or bodies change. Our location or job may change so we adjust our talents in that too. We don’t simply wait on God to make us more skilled. We practice.
We also cultivate our bodies: feeding it, allowing it to rest, exercising, dressing it, and what not. We don’t simply wait for God to put us to sleep. We go to bed. It seems that there is a cultivation of the various blessings that God has given us within the non-spiritual realm.
So what about gifts in the spiritual realm? Do they need to be cultivated too?
First off, I do not believe our salvation needs to be cultivated. I don’t believe the pardon for my sins can get any better or worse. I believe the pardon for sins is past, present, and future. I believe in once-saved-always-saved also known as perseverance of the saints. Yet, I’m not here to talk about that.
Let’s use the example of internal peace. I believe peace is a gift from God (James 1:17), and peace is of God because it is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). This peace isn’t just a simple “I feel okay because everything is okay.” The peace I speak of surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). It is a peace that is encapsulated within the words of the old hymn It is Well With My Soul. It is a peace that exists as the world is on fire, but we are assured we’ll get through this. It’s not an ignoring of feelings, but an overwhelming feeling that God is in control and He loves us. Praise God for such a peace!
So do we need to cultivate such a magnanimous overwhelmingly powerful peace from God?
Yes, I think so.
It’s complicated though. Such a peace is from God and He grows it in our hearts if we are Christians. Yet, we have a hand in this cultivation. One of the biggest thieves of peace is disobedience. God loves to lead us down the best path for us in life, though sometimes that path leads straight up a mountain. That’s too much work so we choose the path of the valley instead not realizing there are monsters in the valley.
I’m afraid of seeming confusing and too metaphorical so here’s something concrete for peace. The Bible talks about guarding our thoughts or taking every thought captive quite often (2 Cor. 10:5; Phil. 4:8; 1 Peter 1:13; Psalm 101:3; Col 3:2). What this means is that we don’t allow ourselves to worry about hypotheticals. Worrying about hypotheticals will rob you of peace. I try to tell people not to go into the saloon with a loaded pistol. It means we don’t prepare our words for a fight that hasn’t started. Isn’t it better to look like an idiot than to wound Jesus with the words we say to a spiritual brother or sister?
That’s just with peace and worry. There are other parts of internal peace dealing with what we read, or watch. There’s the part of inner peace with how we act toward other people. Then there’s the bond between inner peace and prayer, and the bond with inner peace and reading the Bible.
I’m not saying though to be safe Christians who never risk. I think Christians should be the riskiest of people because we realize everything we have is from God, and He will take care of us. At the same time I don’t think all of us should sell all of our possessions and move to Africa. That may not be what the Lord wants us to do. Remember one of the biggest threats to peace is disobedience.
That’s just one aspect of one part of our spiritual lives with God. There’s peace, but how do we have peace without hope? How do we have hope without love? How do we have love without faith? Yet, what is faith without kindness? And how could we ever possibly be kind without peace?
I fear I’ve taken a single principle and mixed it with everything else I could and threw in figurative speech and now it’s inedible. So let me close with an image.
We’re children and on a playground. We have our favorite colored rubber foursquare ball. It’s those really good ones for kickball, dodgeball, and foursquare. It was a gift from our father the King. We can do whatever we want with that ball, but what He really wants us to do is share that ball with other kids. In fact, if we gave our ball away, our loving infinitely resourced Father would be more than willing to give us another. BUT! We don’t sit on the ball because then it’ll warp and become egg shaped. We keep it away from cars and sharp objects because that’ll pop the ball. We shouldn’t kick it too high because it’ll go over the fence. Yet, maybe we’re having too much fun and we do kick it too high. Then one of the bigger kids (COMMUNITY!!) or our Father could go get it for us. Or we could just ignore the ball at sit at a table watching other kids play.
Our walks with God are so multifaceted, and our choices really do matter. It’s daunting, but perfection is never expected of us. It’s why Jesus died. So we move forward doing the best we can with whatever we have. Then the Lord will look favorably on our five loaves and two fish so that we can minster to the multitudes of people.