Weeding – I hate it. Always have. In fact, I have had a pretty strange and often comical relationship with weeds. There was the time my mother told me to transplant young strawberry plants and I lovingly, carefully (but inadvertently) transplanted weeds instead. There was the time I was looking to save money on hedges around my home and dug up some wild bushes along my fence line. I did at least actually transplant the bushes I wanted, but I also, apparently, failed to notice the poison ivy it was intertwined with. That cost me weeks of suffering while I was 8 months pregnant.
And finally, although I love fresh veggies, all my adult life I have tried to come up with ways to avoid having to weed around my vegetable plants. These solutions include, using weeding as a punishment for my children; putting down thick black plastic between rows of vegetable plants, and growing vegetables exclusively in pots.
Clearly, I am not meant to weed. Or am I?
In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus give the Parable of the Tares. In verses 36-43 Jesus outlines the meaning of that parable. These tares or weeds were probably darnel, a wheat-like weed, with the only visible difference being black seeds (instead of wheat colored).
We are told, by the Savior Himself, in this parable, that there will be tares – weeds – among His first fruits – people who are planted by “the wicked one,” the enemy (see verse 25). But when the servants ask about weeding them out, what does the maser in the parable say?
Matthew 13:29-30 [ESV] “But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”
Why not? For fear that “in gathering the weeds you root you the wheat along with them.”
If the angels who are the reapers (See v. 39) are told not to pull up the tares for fear of harming the wheat. Then, it is certain that if I tried to identify and remove these tares, I might dislodge the wheat – causing harm to those God has planted there in His fields. I believe this, in part, to be because I cannot discern the difference between a struggling wheat stalk, trying to push past the soil and the shade into the full sun, and a tare that looks like a healthy stalk. And it isn’t my job to do so.
Perhaps I would be tempted to think that the pregnant teenager is a weed. Maybe it seems absolutely certain using human judgement that it is that alcoholic who just lapsed again. Maybe it is that person who worked on the Sabbath last week or who blew up at their kid at church or gossiped about me.
We cannot know for sure, because, when it comes to Christians, the discernment between wheat and tare is one that requires knowing the heart and only God can know anyone’s heart.
Maybe the folks whom we recognize to be in these open struggles were planted by God into my congregation so they could have a supportive place while they struggle to change. Maybe they were planted by God into my congregation to teach me humility and mercy or to show me an example of how to fight the good fight against great odds. Maybe they are here to teach me what it really means to put on the whole armor of God and really go to war against the “old self.”
Probably the actual tares are tougher for mortal man to identify. Definitely, I should not be trying to do that. Instead, I should be focusing on weeding out the “non-wheat” in my own character.
Beth Moore, in her study The Quest (page 94), says that it is possible to maintain a “life-long doctrinal stand that never interferes with our actual walk.” That is a pretty “tare-like” behavior, if you ask me. And, to me, this is the ultimate test to apply to my own life. Am I living a life that is changed by my belief, by revelation of my sin, by understanding of the Word, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Or do I just know a lot of stuff?
Ugh. I hate to weed. Luckily, there are some tools for keeping my weeds at bay. I can be sure I’m planted firmly in the fertile soil of the truth so that I am not easily blown about by the “doctrinal winds.” [See Ephesians 4:14] I can ensure that my roots are soaking up the watering of the Holy Spirit so that I can produce plump, healthy fruit. I can continually reach toward the warmth of the Son, from whom comes my life-giving nourishment. And I can immediately and without mercy pluck out any weed in my character before it has time to take root.
I know from experience that weeds left to grow even a little bit have amazingly tough roots. Best to nip them in the bud.
Did I mention that I hate to weed? At least I am only responsible for the garden of my life.
The tares will be removed from God’s harvest. Matthew 15:13 reinforces this, when Jesus says “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” But the parable of the tares tells us that will be done by the angels at the end of the world [Matthew 13:39-40].
In the meantime, there is the internal, personal weeding to be done. I’ve got to tend to my own garden so that I can hope to “shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of (my) Father.” [Matthew 13:41]
Clearly, we are all meant to weed. We just have to sure we are weeding in the right spot.
I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.