What does tending mean?

To tend is to pay attention or to apply oneself to a task; to apply oneself to the care of, to have, or take charge of as a caretaker.

It’s important to spend time tending to our spiritual lives as we grow. A tree or plant must be properly tended for it to grow and remain healthy. Tending requires such actions as pruning dead branches, watering, providing proper sunlight, fertilizing, plucking weeds, and possibly being transplanted when it outgrows its current setting.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2 ESV, emphasis added).

Our lives need tending, just like trees and plants. We are constantly overloaded with information and influences that may not please God. Everything affects our lives: where we go, what we see, the people we hang out with, what we click on—it all feeds our lives. We are either growing daily in things that draw us closer to God or in things that draw us away from God. Sometimes we find ourselves a little off course and we must tend to our lives. God wants to be the main focus of our lives and have us examine our hearts before him. Part of our process should be to evaluate our lives on a regular basis.

“Whatever you feed the longest, becomes the strongest” — Pastor Kevin Berry, Mount Hope Church

This quote is so true. Every day, we are exposed to all kinds of ideas, images, information, and influences that shape us. Sometimes we can’t ignore these things, but other times we willingly permit these things into our lives. All this stuff shapes the way we think and programs our behaviors. We are not “robots” programmed for the world’s ways. We have the mind of Christ as Christians and must renew our minds daily!

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16 NLT).
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

What if we don’t tend to our lives?

If we don’t tend to our lives, we can begin to grow unhealthy roots that will eventually hinder our walk with Jesus. They must be dealt with before they get out of control.

Tending to our lives is a constant thing. Ongoing repentance is a beautiful practice in light of Jesus. Tending is not just an outward act or, in other words, what people see us do. It’s a process. God is going to show us areas that need adjusting to grow healthier. When we look at tending to our lives, let’s aim to please God in all we do. We examine ourselves before the Source (Jesus) and look into his mirror to see where he wants us to adjust daily.

The question should always be “Does this honor God?” Remember who Jesus is and what he did for us. That will produce love that grows strong and leads us to tend to our lives.

What are some of the things you like to do most in life? Take a moment and write down your thoughts.

Do you feel those things please and honor Jesus? Take a moment and write down your thoughts.

Areas that may need tending:

·    Our friendships.

Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul (Proverbs 22:24-25 NLT).

Choosing friends is one of the most important things we do in life. One of my mentors always said, “Show me your five closest friends and I will show you your future.”

·    Our attitude toward other people.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 NLT).

It’s sometimes easy to recognize other people’s sins and failures, but God wants us to forgive as we have been forgiven and help restore people gently from sin, after we deal with our own hearts. We must deal with the issues in our own lives first; this will help us influence more people and be right with God. He searches the depths of our hearts and knows our deepest secrets.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5 NLT).

·    Unforgiveness.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15 ESV).

Unforgiveness is dangerous because it can produce a root of bitterness and destroy us from the inside out. If you have ever met someone with intense bitterness, you know that unforgiveness most hurts the person who hasn’t forgiven others.

“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison, then waiting for your enemy to die.” —Anonymous
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV).

·    The way we handle adversity. Jesus didn’t promise we wouldn’t face adversity; he promised that he would give us strength to overcome it. Tough situations can actually strengthen our faith, and we can use them to bless God. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world (1 Peter 1:7 NLT). Coals under extreme pressure and high temperatures can actually produce diamonds. Next time you face adversity, look at it as your opportunity for God to produce diamonds from the situation!

Other areas that need tending:

·    Our attitudes, thoughts, emotions, and actions
·    Our relationships with our parents and family members
·    Movies, music, TV, websites, and places we go
·    Our ideas on dating and relationships
·    Our conversations with people

Ways to tend our lives:

·    Watering/sunlight. Renewing our minds daily with Jesus through the Bible, prayer, worship, church, podcasts, and serving others. Jesus is the water of life and the light of the world. We must drink his water to survive spiritually. The “Source” is our source for life.
·    Fertilizing. Putting good things in our lives will help stimulate our growth in Jesus. These things could include being involved in a mission trip, participating in a outreach, and finding Jesus music to jam to.
·    Repenting/confessing sin. When we fall and get off track, we tend to run from God, but we should do the exact opposite. We need to run to God and ask for mercy and help. God is faithful and willing to forgive and restore (1 John 1:9). Also, having someone we can confess our sin to is a way of obeying Scripture.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16 ESV).

·    Pruning. No one likes to be pruned while it is happening, but afterward we grow more than before.

“I [Jesus] am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more” (John 15:1-2 NLT).

Jesus prunes the ones he loves so we can produce more fruit. We can get off track a little bit without noticing it, but after a few miles we realize we are way off track. Pruning gives us the opportunity to get back on track, adjust our lives, and line up with Scripture.

But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames (1 Corinthians 3:13-15 NLT).

Why hold on to unfruitful dead branches that will be burned anyway? Let’s prune our lives before God has to do it for us. He is worth it all.

What are some areas of your life that you can tend to bear more fruit in your pursuit of God? Take a moment and write them down.

How do we overcome sin?

When we sin we are missing the mark. Is our “mark” or, in other words, “target” sin? NO, the mark/target is Jesus. When we take our aim off Jesus, we stumble and sin. So many people spend their whole lives trying not to sin, but the power to overcome sin comes from pursuing Jesus. Us being obedient is all by his grace and not our power.

But he [the Lord] said to me [Paul], “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV, emphasis added).

On our own, we possess no power to overcome sin. The more we look to ourselves for strength, the more we lose. The Bible teaches us when we are weak we are actually strong. That seams backward, but our strength in situations is found in Jesus.  

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NLT).

Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to give us power over temptation. God provides a way out of every temptation we face. Jesus himself was tempted and understands what temptation is like. Unlike us, though, Jesus never sinned, and he overcame death by the work on the Cross. In Jesus we can overcome sin and death as well, but only in HIM!

In closing

God is a good father, and like a good dad, he corrects and disciplines the ones he loves. God wants to correct us so that we can be closer to him and have a greater impact on the world around us. This is a good thing and tending is a beautiful process of God's love in and through us. Embrace it and let him in daily. As we pursue God, it’s important that we aim to adjust our lives and look deep in our hearts, and we examine our lives to be in line with Jesus. Tending can be tedious and tough at times, but it is always worth it!

Quick review

·    God correct those he loves
·    We can’t overcome sin by ourselves
·    Jesus is the mark/target we pursue
·    We need to water our lives with the “Source”
·    Unforgiveness can bring bitterness and can hurt us
·    Deal with our issues before we can help others (log/speck); look in before we look out
·    Be honest with yourself; see if your life is representing Jesus in all areas
·    We need to prune our lives of things that hinder our relationship with God

Growth Steps

·    Take time to pray this week and see if you have unforgiveness. If so, write down your thoughts to God and ask him to help you.
·    Do you need to ask someone for forgiveness or ask God for forgiveness of sins? If so, go to God or to that person and seek forgiveness.
·    Look for areas to prune this week to honor God more in your life.
·    Make a list of things that will help you grow spiritually and develop an action plan to live out this list you created (such as music, web, TV, activities that can help you grow).
·    Read 1 and 2 Corinthians.
·    Write down questions you have about “Tending” and bring them up to your Root Group Leader next week.

A prayer for today

Thank you, Jesus, for correcting me and showing me areas where I can adjust to bring more honor to your name! Please continue to show me ways I can be more like you each day, each hour, and each minute. I thank you that you love me enough to mold me when I’m off track. Amen.