Dealing with the weeds of life
The Parable of the wheat and the weeds
Like many parables they can seem very straight forward to start with. This one even more so as we are given the meaning by Jesus in later verses but that doesn't mean there isn't lots to dig into, learn and apply to our everyday life.
The parable is told in Matthew 13 : 24 - 30
Another parable He put forth to them saying "The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them 'An enemy has done this' The servants said to him 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, 'first gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn." (NKJV)
In later verses Jesus explains to his disciples that the field is the world, God is the farmer, the enemy is Satan, the wheat are God's subjects and the weeds are Satan's subjects.
In the story the farmer leaves the weeds and this left me wondering about how we expect God to deal with the difficult people in our life and how having these people around us affects us.
Identifying the weeds
At the beginning of this parable it starts with the enemy sneaking in and planting weeds during the night while everyone was resting and therefore not on their guide. Have you ever woken up to find the devil has been busy while you were resting? Planting weeds in your family life, place of work or even church?
The workers only notice the weeds when the wheat heads appeared. This is because the common weed used was Darnel which appears to grow as wheat until the last minute when it becomes clear that it is not part of the good harvest. Sadly the weeds in our life can be just as clever. They often appear as friends, fellow believers, people of authority, or whose who at first seem to be people sent to help us. They can appear at what seems to be just the right time and at first appear to be providing us with what we need.
So how do we learn to spot the weeds in our lives?
Another word we could use instead of weed would be fraudulent. The weeds pretended to be wheat until the wheat heads appeared and then their true nature became visible. So we spot a weed the same way we spot a fraud.
People that investigate fraud will tell you that it isn't about learning when to spot something is wrong but about really learning and understanding what is right. For bank cashiers who spend all day working with money it's not that they know what a fake note looks like but that they know what a real one looks like so well that the fakes stick out. They spot the fake because all day everyday they are surrounded by the real thing, feeling it and looking at it.
This is the way to protect yourself.
To know his word is to know God. The more time you spend in his company the more in tune with him you will become and the more understanding you will gain of his will. The more you get to know what is true and right, the easier it becomes to spot when something is wrong.
The things you read and watch, the people you surround yourself with, the activities you choose to participate in. Philippines 4 verse 8 Paul commands
"...whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things."
This advice is important because it gives us instruction on how to gain that all important wisdom to spot the fraud. What is says is know what is right, inside and out, back to front. Live it and breath it, let you spirit grow so large and so strong that it will physically reel back when it comes face to face with anything fraudulent.
Why God leaves the weeds
So say we get to that point, then we are to ask. What do we do about the weeds in our life? Why does God not remove the weeds and should we?
Before we start I must stress that this is not about cutting people out of our lives or accusing people of wanting to harm us. Some people are out to do harm but more often people are just living their lives and are unaware of the enemy's purpose they are being used for. Unbelievers can often be unaware of the impact their sin has on others and it is about learning to interact with the people around us with wisdom.
It is also important at this point to remember the 'happy ending', for want of a better phrase, to this is that we are told that at the end the farmer will send the harvester to remove the weeds and we will be free of them.
But in the meantime we do seem to be stuck with them.
The parable states that pulling the weeds would hurt the wheat. God's wisdom shows through here and for reasons that God understands we need to learn how to live with and in amongst the weeds. Why?
Well Firstly history has proven that when we take it upon ourselves to decide who is a true believe, whose intentions are pure or whose life is worthy, we often make a mess of it. God knows the heart of every man and woman, it is not our job to try to judge them and an attempt to 'pull them up' could do unforeseen damage.
And secondly, we all come to God at different times and stages in life. God wants all to come to him and he will give them until the ends of their lives to do so. We are called to love the world, disciple to all, and pray for even those who hurt us. God may have big plans for his glory for the people who are weeds in our lives right now. We only have to look at the life of Paul for an example of this. When new believes come to church some come from darker places than others and some progress at a slower pace. They come with little or no knowledge and many have been left fleeing churches as judgement and condemnation rains down on them. Jesus sort out sinners and we must do the same, not hold them back from our doors.
Thirdly God uses all our trails to strengthen us and help us grow, this includes dealing with difficult people including work colleges and even family members.
How to live with the weeds
So now that we have come to terms with the weeds in our life how do we deal with them? My husband once worked with a man who quickly became a friend. They talked often and made plans outside of work but it quickly became apparent that he was flaky and unreliable. As my husband got to know him more he took a step back and saw he often put people down to try to gain confidence with others and talked people down to the boss to gain favour. This was a shock when the friendship had started so positively and my husband was left feeling suspicious whenever he was around him but he had the wisdom to know an argument or accusations were not the best course of action and instead he distanced himself from him and only allowed him his work number keeping their relationship as strictly work related. He would help him when he needed it and chat when their paths crossed but by setting boundaries he was able to protected himself but continued to show the kindness and friendship of Christ.
You see this friend may have ended up being a 'weed' but my husband was able to spot this before damage was done and remain friendly without being compromised.
My original question was 'what do we expect God to do" and maybe the answer should be nothing, because he has given us all the tools we need to do it ourselves.
1. We pray for them.
Luke 6 : 28 "bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."
2. We witness to them
1 Peter 3 : 15-16 "Instead you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way." (NLT)
3. We show them love and kindness
2 Timothy 2 : 24 "A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people." (NLT)
4. BUT we choose our inner circle of friends with wisdom and careful judgement
Proverbs 13 : 20 "Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (NIV)
Proverbs 22 : 24-25 "Don't befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul." (NLT)
Proverbs 27 : 9 "The heartfelt council of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense." (NLT)