It is well known and recognized that we can learn spiritual lessons from homely, everyday things and events. The Lord Himself often used homely analogies to teach great spiritual truths, e.g. the new wine in old bottles, and many of His parables.

Agriculture and horticulture provide many such examples in the scriptures: see, for instance, Mark 4. 2 - 20, and in the Old Testament, Isaiah 5. 1-7; 6. 13; and 28. 23-29. When clearing some ground for the preparation of vegetable and flower beds last year, one was led to think of the spiritual analogy. The Lord’s parable of the sower, cited above in Mark’s account, shows that good (i.e. weed-free) ground is necessary for fruit-bearing. So for us, self-judgment is a constant necessity. Digging or forking over untilled ground is laborious work and can be painful. But the thought that impressed the writer was the fact that, beyond a certain point, it becomes counter productive. One can go on and on finding things in a flower or vegetable bed that should not be there. This is not constructive activity in itself. So with us. Introspection becomes unproductive. We need to sow and plant - impressions of Christ taken into the soul from studying the word and thinking about Him. We can then deal with what is inconsistent with Him, just as we can keep our beds bearing flowers or vegetables, free of weeds by hoeing continually.

In this connection it is interesting that in the oft-quoted verse ‘let a man examine himself’ (in the context of the Lord’s Supper, 1 Cor. 11. 28) the word dokimazo, translated ‘examine’ in AV, is not used elsewhere in this sense. Vine defines the meaning as being ‘to prove, test, approve’, and adds, ‘primarily of metals, signifies to prove … more frequently to prove with a view to approval’; and other translations read ‘prove himself’ in 1 Cor. 11. 28. To prove oneself would certainly involve self-judgment, but would involve more if necessary, e.g. dealing with anything that self-judgment reveals as needing attention. A different Greek word is used for ‘examine’, anakrino, in I Cor. 4. 3-4, where the AV (‘judge’) does not give the true sense. Paul’s statement properly reads, ‘He that examines me is the Lord’: and this is surely the only safe ground to take, that is, to submit ourselves continually to the Lord Jesus for His assessment and direction.