Stop Pulling Weeds and Start Planting Seeds
Jesus was a master storyteller. Akin to many other rabbis in His day, Jesus would teach in parables, and the primary subject matter of these stories was the kingdom of God. It has been said that parables function like a window and a mirror. As Jesus described what the kingdom of God was like, He would use parables as a window to frame and give focus to a primary aspect of the kingdom. But He would also use parables as a mirror so that His hearers would be able to see themselves within the storyline of God’s kingdom. Windows provoke wonder and invite wisdom, while mirrors expose the internal motivations of the heart and provide a pathway of repentance in order to reorder and reframe one’s perspective. While there is much more that can be mined and applied from this parable, here are two points of revelation and application that the Lord brought to me that came as a window and a mirror.
Wheat and Weeds
I was recently meeting with a group of prayer leaders, and one of them brought up Jesus’ parable of the wheat and weeds in Matthew 13:24-30. The essence of this parable is to explain the reason why evil persists within the world, but also to equip followers of Jesus to persevere in the truth that God’s kingdom will endure. As Jesus would often do, after teaching this particular parable He offered the interpretation privately to His own disciples. We see this explanation in Matthew 13:36-43 and Jesus concludes it with the admonition, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” I encourage you to pause right now and prayerfully and slowly read this parable and its explanation. How might the Lord open your ears to hear?
This question among this group was then raised: “While we know that the end is certain and God’s kingdom will prevail, how are we to live now in light of the present evil when the end-time harvest seems so far away?” A great question. And as we prayerfully reflected and shared with one another, the Lord used this familiar parable in a new way as both a window and mirror.
Wheat and Weeds as a Window
Jesus makes the meaning of this parable crystal clear for His disciples. He explains that the world is a field that belongs to God. And in this field, there is the good seed sown by Jesus, representing His faithful followers. Conversely, there are also weeds that are sown by the devil, which represent those who sinfully break God’s law. Both the good seed and bad seed grow together in the same field and share the same soil. And Jesus instructed that both must grow together until the harvest at the end of the age, when God’s angels will reap the wheat from the weeds. At this time, all causes of sin and breakers of the law will be permanently removed and separated from God and from God’s people. And the two seeds will go to their two separate eternal dwelling places. Wickedness will be gathered, judged, and destroyed while the righteous will be preserved and rewarded as those who “shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father.”
So here’s the window moment: God sovereignly allows both good and evil to coexist in His world because He is entirely gracious. What do I mean by this? Commentator Craig Blomberg summarizes, “Jesus’ principle here applies in every age to the question of why God allows evil and suffering in the world. His creation can be purged of all evil only through the judgment and re-creation of the universe at the end of the age because evil resides in every person. God’s delay in bringing the end of the world is thus entirely gracious, giving people more opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3:9).”
In other words, this kingdom parable gives us a fresh view of God’s abundant grace in our lives that ought to produce a renewed sense of wonder and gratitude. But this parable also gives us wisdom. As we look at the world not primarily as a place of harm due to the pervasive evil, but in humility, we can see the world through the lens of hope. While it’s tempting to be distracted by all the evil obstacles that seem to constantly sprout up, we can instead focus on all the opportunities our Sovereign Lord is making available to join Him in building His kingdom. This realization led me to the second thing the Lord highlighted for me in this parable.
While it’s tempting to be distracted by all the evil obstacles that seem to constantly sprout up, we can instead focus on all the opportunities our Sovereign Lord is making available to join Him in building His kingdom.
Wheat and Weeds as a Mirror
Not only does this parable give us a window to see the world differently through a “kingdom of God” lens, it also gives us a mirror to see our part in the unfolding will of God as His story of redemption is propelled towards consummation. In the parable, notice how the servants of the master’s house ask if they should “go and gather them”? In other words, they ask if they should go and do some spiritual weeding. But the master says “no” and redirects them to let both the wheat and the weeds grow together until harvest, lest the wheat also be uprooted in the gathering of the weeds. It’s wise to wait. But there’s also work to do while we wait.
Getting back to the question that was raised earlier, what then should we do if we are not supposed to uproot the weeds that the enemy has sown in the field of the world?
On a personal level, I feel like my own backyard is a living representation of this parable. Ever since my wife and moved into our home almost 12 years ago, we have constantly battled pervasive weeds on our lawn, and each year it seems as though the weeds have won. But recently my father-in-law, who is a master gardener, said something that the Lord used to bring the point of this parable home to me. He explained that the best way to have a healthy lawn is not to try and pull out all the weeds, but instead to plant more grass. He went on to explain that when your focus lies in cultivating a lawn where more and more grass can flourish, it will eventually choke out the root system of the weeds because they will no longer occupy the space needed to grow.
Here was the mirror moment for me: we need to stop pulling weeds and start planting seeds. It is so easy for me to focus on the weeds and become discouraged. Likewise, I can expend so much energy being concerned and even fearful about what the enemy has done or is doing in and around my life. But once we altered our focus and strategy with our lawn, we have seen a significant change! I also realized that God has more seeds than the devil, and He has invited us to join Him in the sowing so that we can also join Him in the reaping. Speaking of the harvest metaphor in another place of Scripture, Jesus put it this way: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).
God has more seeds than the devil, and He has invited us to join Him in the sowing so that we can also join Him in the reaping.
While there will always be the coexistence of wheat and weeds until Jesus returns, you and I are invited to earnestly pray and fervently plant by proclaiming and demonstrating the gospel of the kingdom. And as we do, may God’s kingdom be represented on earth in an ever-increasing way until the harvest!
While there will always be the coexistence of wheat and weeds until Jesus returns, you and I are invited to earnestly pray and fervently plant by proclaiming and demonstrating the gospel of the kingdom.
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