I have seen lovely homes with a nicely landscaped front yard, beautifully framing the home with color and style. Then, to my dismay, observed the backyard to be a mess of dirt, weeds, and nothing too impressive at all. Why is it we "put our best foot forward" with what people see first, but neglect to ever do anything with the thing we see the most? The front yard is for the public - the backyard is for our use, is it not?
The perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard; fools look for it everywhere but right here. (Proverbs 17:24 The Message)
I know our passage only speaks to the "front yard" of the perceptive (the wise), but I think there is much to be said about what is the "back yard" of a person's life! What we allow, or choose to ignore, in our "back yard" is often more important than what we have created for the public view in our "front yard". For some of us, the things we allow into our lives create a mass of clutter which litters our backyard. For others, what we ignore in our backyard takes on a life of its own!
Yet, we spend the most time IN or observing our own backyard, don't we? I don't spend a whole lot of time in the front yard - although I keep it groomed, fertilized, and watered. I like seeing the green grass, blooming bushes, and huge boughs of the pine trees as I drive into my garage. But...once the garage door is down, I see the backyard much more than I do the front! I see the things which blow into it with the storms, observe the wild animals and birds which seem to frequent its space, and even notice the things which seem to need my attention, but just don't get it!
Why is it I notice the dead plant in the corner bed, but do nothing about it for weeks on end? No one else sees it! It is easy to neglect what we think no one else will ever know about! The sad truth is we seldom know when our "back yard" may just be observed - in its full state of disrepair! So, knowing this "inevitability" of "discovery", maybe we'd do well to consider just what is in our backyard and how it got to be there!
As I have already indicated, some things are there because we just allowed them to be. For example, maybe we have developed a little bit of a tendency to engage in "coarse" conversation - you know, the type which is just a little bit "shady", but not really filled with all manner of cussing and the like. Nonetheless, it "colors" who we are. We allow this long enough and it becomes a way of life for us. We don't think twice about engaging in the conversation which is a little jaded. The problem - it doesn't build us up, nor does it build up another - so it is really not productive. God asks us to measure our words - so they are productive and capable of building up, not tearing us or another down.
Other things are in our backyards because we have ignored them for so long, we just figure they belong there! This might be the bad habit we have formed which really is adding nothing of value to our life, and may even be displaying something similar to the dead bush in the corner of my yard! Instead of plucking it up and planting something which is alive and capable of growth, we ignore the barrenness. The barrenness becomes something we tolerate until it no longer bothers us. One day, Jesus told a story about the branches which bore no fruit - they were good for nothing, but firewood! Some of the stuff we ignore in our lives is really just "kindling" capable of igniting a real fire of sin in our lives! Better to rid ourselves of the kindling than allow it to be the fuel which destroys our lives.
If you want to do a little experiment, download the application for your computer called "Google Earth". It is a nifty thing! You can put in any address, then in a moment of time, zoom into ground level views of that location. I did it with my own home address and saw for myself - the front yard looked great! But...the backyard was visible, as well. What I thought no one else could see because it is surrounded by a six foot high block wall is not so hidden after all! In fact, I saw the broken down car in my neighbor's backyard, the barren dirt backyard of the neighbor six houses away, and the condition of everyone's pools! What we may think is hidden is indeed not!