Once upon a time there was a gardener who grew an enormous carrot. He took it to his king and said, ‘My lord, this is the greatest carrot I’ve ever grown or ever will grow; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you’. The king was touched and discerned the man’s heart, so as he turned to go, the king said, ‘Wait! You are clearly a good steward of the earth. I own a plot of land right next to yours. I want to give it to you freely as a gift, so you can garden it all’.

The gardener was amazed and delighted and went home rejoicing.

But there was a nobleman at the king’s court who overheard all this, and he said, ‘My! If that is what you get for a carrot, what if you gave the king something better?’

The next day the nobleman came before the king, and he was leading a handsome black stallion. He bowed low and said, ‘My lord, I breed horses, and this is the greatest horse I’ve ever bred or ever will; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you’.

But the king discerned his heart and said, ‘Thank you’, and took the horse and simply dismissed him.

The nobleman was perplexed, so the king said, ‘Let me explain. That gardener was giving me the carrot, but you were giving yourself the horse’ (as told by Charles Spurgeon).

Looking back over my walk with the Lord, I have to confess that my motives for obeying him have been more in keeping with the nobleman than the gardener. The reason for the times I’ve done the right thing by God has been to get things from God rather than to get God himself. I know this because I’ve sulked & gotten angry at God for not granting me what I feel I’ve worked hard for through my ‘good life’. It seems to me that I’m not all that different from the nobleman or the elder brother in Jesus’ parable of the two lost sons in Luke 15:11-31.

In the coming weeks, as we look at this passage together, I pray that the Holy Spirit will work in our hearts so that we are more like the gardener in our posture before the Lord.

Mark