Spearmint, Spirits & Praise

Last weekend while pulling up spent plants at the end of the year’s growing season, I was reminded of my first adventure into gardening. At our previous house, I had several beds of roses and decided to venture out and add a few herbs to the beds. I planted several varieties and then added spearmint. It smelled so good and while all the new plants did well, the spearmint really took off. Its aroma was delicious and the rich green of the leaves was lovely, but it began to get out of control. It kept growing and growing, crowding out the other herbs and it even tried to hone in on the roses. I kept cutting it back but that didn’t solve the problem so eventually I pulled it up, roots and all. But spearmint is tenacious. Every time I turned around, a new shoot was springing up. I’d pull the new one out, yet before long another would sprout somewhere else in the bed. Even two years later an occasional shoot of spearmint would appear.

When we became God’s children, He placed His Spirit inside us, to teach and guide. But our old nature still exists. Even if it was pulled up by the roots, remnants of it remain. It is more tenacious than spearmint. In Luke, Jesus tells us that as a tree is recognized by its fruit, the words we speak reflect which spirit is active in our heart. When we are living in the Spirit, our words, both audible and those we think, reflect His fruit. They are words of love, peace, gentleness and joy. But when we are not, our words reveal another spirit living in us, competing to produce fruit in our lives.

Are you like Jenny?
Jenny seems to have a ‘yes, but’ response to everything. If she was told the sun was shining she’d add that it would still likely rain on the parade. If she came into a financial windfall, she would complain about having to pay the taxes. Jenny is the type of person who sees the glass as half empty all the time. Her words reveal what lives in her heart: a negative spirit.

Are you like Frank?
Frank hones in on the one wrong thing in any situation. When his son studies hard and brings home A’s and one B on his report card, Frank is upset it was not perfect. During a presentation at work he notices only the one mistake in the document making certain that everyone else is aware of it too. His words reveal what lives in his heart: a critical spirit.

Are you like Lisa?
Lisa worries all the time. If her children want to play at their friend’s homes she tells them no because they might get hurt. She worries about their development; always comparing them to her other children. She worries to her sister that her husband won’t find her as attractive as the women at work. Her words reveal what lives in her heart: a fearful spirit.

Are you like Bob?
Bob is controlling. He has his five year plan charted and knows exactly where he is on it at any time. He seeks to continually improve- his education, his looks, and his earnings. He is always focusing on what he needs to do to get further ahead because he can't count on anyone but himself. His words reveal what lives in his heart: a doubtful spirit.

Are you like Jason?
Jason is jealous of his co-worker’s promotion at work. He feels that he should have gotten the assignment instead. He hates the fact that things seem to come so easily for some people. He has had to work hard all his life yet he believes he is never appreciated. His favorite saying seems to be “it’s not fair”. Jason’s words reveal what lives in his heart: a resentful spirit.

God did not give us His Spirit so that we would live in fear, doubt, selfishness or resentment. He gave us the Spirit to produce sweet fruit as a blessing for others. When sprouts of other spirits creep into your heart, turn away from them and toward praise for your God. As we give Him praise, He fills us anew for God inhabits the praises of His people. Through praise, you'll pull out the unwanted seedling and once again live in the Spirit. 

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

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