“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” I’ve always felt it was unfortunate that this childhood jingle chose Mary to be contrary, but my question for you today is how does your spiritual garden grow?

Gardening God’s way requires that we plant three rows of “peas” in our gardens—peace of soul, peace of mind and peace of heart. We also need three rows of “squash”: squash gossip, squash indifference, and squash selfishness. These are three weeds which will grow rapidly and deeply in our gardens and, unless we take drastic action, they will choke out all the good things.

“Squash” gossip. Why is it we are all too ready to listen to or repeat some tidbit of gossip? It comes from evil in our hearts, and we need to squash it so quick and so hard that it has no chance to grow. How do we squash gossip? We refuse to listen to it. When others start gossiping in our presence, we change the subject or confront it. And we absolutely refuse to gossip ourselves. Ephesians 4:29 will squash gossip at once: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

“Squash” indifference. Did you ever realize that indifference—just letting things slide, taking it easy, living in mediocrity—is a dangerous weed in your garden? “It’s not my job” is a phrase that personifies indifference. If there’s any indifference in your life—that tendency to pass the buck and shun responsibility—you really need to squash it.

“Squash” selfishness. I find this to be a life-long process in my garden because selfishness seems to grow back overnight, and from the smallest seed it can grow into a bush very quickly! Putting self first comes naturally to all of us; we didn’t have to teach our children to be selfish, did we? But putting self first is a recipe for misery and unhappiness. If you want to have an abundant life, squash selfishness.

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:34-35).

Well, how does your garden grow? Do you need to plant some “squash”? I encourage you to squash gossip, squash indifference, and squash selfishness.