One of my favorite parables of Christ is found in Matthew 13:24-30
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?” And he said to them, “An enemy has done this!” The slaves said to him, “Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?” But he said, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
My carrot patch (the picture above is of carrots I harvested today just in time for Valentine’s Day!) started out pristine – weeds were not allowed. After the seeds came up I faithfully pulled each weed and laid mulch between each row of carrots. It was beautiful. Then, I got busy elsewhere and the weeds took advantage of my distraction.
Now, the carrots are finally ready to be pulled but it’s hard to tell the carrots from the weeds. But, know what? It’s not a problem. When we need carrots, I just go out and pull both weeds and carrots. It’s easy to tell the difference – the carrots have those long, orange roots (you know, the part we eat) while the weeds don’t. So, I quickly sort the carrots from the weeds and take the former into the house to prepare for a meal.
While this method won’t work for most vegetables, this is how I would love to garden…just let the weeds grow! Then, when it comes time to harvest, sort it all out.
In the garden of the world that’s exactly what God does. He asks us to sow the seed (word of God – the gospel), plant and water (1 Corinthians 3:4-9). The resulting growth is His work, not ours. In every case, some weeds will come up. Thankfully, it’s also not our job to discern the weeds from the wheat, that’s God’s business. At harvest, He takes care of the sorting.
When we try to do God’s work and pull up the weeds, precious souls are damaged. We’re terrible at it. Yet, that’s exactly what we spend a lot of time and energy doing…deciding who’s in and who’s out. The results are predictable: disunity, denominational polarization and isolation, anger and disgust by those who observe. Men and women are drawn by the cross but repelled by our actions. Satan loves it.
Let’s leave the weeding up to God.