I remember hearing a joke at a debate I once watched. It goes like this:
A man visits an old farmers garden, and he observes, “The Lord certainly has blessed you with a beautiful garden.”
The farmer replies, “Yes, but you should have seen it before I got here and God had it all to himself.”
Although some folk don’t like this joke, the idea I want to highlight from the joke is the intentional work needed to create a garden.
The scriptures are littered with the garden metaphor, and the metaphor is likened to the soul – heart & mind. The scriptures also speaks to the leaders as being keepers, guards or watchmen of the garden. Of course the leader’s duty doesn’t lessen your responsibility for your own garden. The command? Be Watchful!
The inference is that God has already decided what the garden should be growing. And Jesus comes along and proclaims what can stop growth from happening. In Luke 8:9-15 & Mark 4:13-20 He said to Be watchful...1) of caring what others say about what GOD has said…2) of caring incessantly about the life’s demands…3) of desiring riches….4) of craving for pleasure.
Why? Because these are the things within your soul’s garden that can choke out and flat out extinguish what God wants to grow in you. Notice that the attention and end results of the thoughts Jesus warns us of aren’t highlighting anything else but oneself.
In this linked Psychology Today Article, it revealed the same thing but from a different perspective.
Tim Kasser, chair of psychology at Knox College says, “It’s relatively difficult for people to simultaneously focus on the desire for making money and enhancing profit at the same time as on people outside of their in-group.” In other words, it’s difficult to show devotion to greed and generosity. Kasser continued, “To the extent that a business leader becomes increasingly focused on maximizing profit, there’s a corresponding decline in focus on the good of the community.”
Dan Ariely a psychology professor and behavioral economist was summarized by the article of believing that ‘merely thinking about money constricts people’s concerns and orients them toward themselves.’
In our faith’s language we hear Jesus pleading for us to understand, “You CANNOT serve GOD and Riches.” In Luke 12 Jesus urges again to be watchful and beware of covetousness and says that we should rather seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. We must be watchful because the list above can crowd out what should be, according to Jesus, the primary/cornerstone “thought-plant” for the garden.
Why is attaining and guarding/keeping the kingdom of God and His Righteousness in your Heart & Mind so important? Over and above everything else including self? Sounds like a question you’ll have to ask the creator.
With the assumption being that we ought to be others-focused, riches will test your character (what kind of garden you built). Do you know your purposed focus?