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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

A Reason Not to Weed

Matthew 13:24-30,

Weeds have a love-hate relationship with earth. They protect uncared for ground from erosion, but they are disastrous in a lawn or garden. No one reserves a space for weeds in their garden! They come without an invitation.

I love weeding. It’s my favorite garden activity. I’ve never been successful with implements that allow me to stand several feet above my target to take them out. I like to face my enemy at near eye level.

Perhaps that's what caught my attention when Jesus shared a parable about weeds. However, Jesus' story takes an interesting turn. Here’s the deal. The problem isn’t the ground or the seeds that have been planted. The problem is that while the farmer slept, someone sabotaged his crop. They planted wheat-choking weeds certain to reduce his harvest.

When the wheat came up, the planters couldn’t figure out why there were so many weeds. The farmer knew immediately it was an intentional act.

But here’s where the story takes a turn. The farm hands are willing to go pull weeds to protect the crop. The farmer says no because he fears they will pull up good wheat along with the weeds. The farmer knows that harvest time is the better time to make the division.

Remember, a good part of the disciples are fishermen, not farmers. The story didn’t make sense. So they asked Jesus about it. Jesus outlined it out like an English teacher. The famer is the Son of Man and the field is the world. The good seeds are kingdom people, and weeds are the people of the enemy. The harvest is the end of the age and harvesters are angels.

The message is clear but not really practiced today. We are not called to be weeders of the kingdom. We are called to planters and growers. Weeding is God’s work.

Okay. I can accept that until I watch weeds grow. They bother me. I want them gone. Can we legislate them away? Can we protest them away? Can we editorialize them until they wilt and succumb to bad press?

I think Jesus would say, “No!” He call us to grow stronger as we live with weeds. We don’t make peace with weeds. We make peace with God and leave the weeds to Him. We don’t need weed-killer. We need miracle grow. Jesus is reminding us that the stronger we grow, the harder it is for weeds to take over.

There’s another reason not to destroy weeds. It’s where the parable implies an even larger truth. Every weed in this parable is a person, a God-created, God-loved person. God gives every person the longest chance possible to turn from weedy ways and become a growing member of the Kingdom of God. Who are we to take that chance away from them?

As Warren Wiersbe says, “We are not detectives, we are evangelists!”

What should we do with this parable that goes against everything we feel about weeds? Here are three fertilizing principles:

Recognize weeds as counterfeits opposing God’s kingdom.

It’s not judging when the attributes, message, or standards oppose what God establishes. However, we don’t fight counterfeits, but we don’t make it easy for them to grow. It’s a tricky balance and we need the model of Jesus to show us how to do it.

Keep growing stronger in Christ.

The more you grow, the less space weeds have for their choking work. You don’t take them out of the world, but you don’t give them access to your life, perspective, and moral compass as set by God.

Keep planting Truth.

That’s God’s plan for dealing with weeds from now until the end of this age. Live God’s unfailing love in bold and irresistible ways. Follow Jesus’ uncompromising stand. It wasn’t his anger that set the counterfeits against him; it was his love.

The whole world is God’s garden. He doesn’t look forward to the weeding that will come at the end. But that’s where we come in. We live boldly, unreservedly open to God’s empowering so that God can use us in a miracle that our home gardens can never know. Weeds can become wheat. It’s the old story forever new—For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Want to be part of a miracle? Let Jesus show you how. He needs more fertilizers!

If you want to take the story deeper, here’s a five-minute Bible study for you:

Then, answer the following questions based on what you already do or what you need God’s help to do.

1. How do we become fertilizers according to these verses?

Ephesians 5:1, NLT

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.

Ephesians 4:2, NIV

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

2. Do you think of yourself as a megaphone for God’s message? Why or why not?

2 Corinthians 5:20, NLT

We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

3. How does living this way “fertilize” God’s garden?

Philippians 2:14-16a, NIV

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe you hold out the word of life.

4. How are you praying this prayer? Where should you be praying it?

Colossians 4:2-3a, NIV

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray . . . that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.

5. How does this reveal God’s heart for “weeds?”

I Peter 3:15

Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.

If you want to download this as a 2-page worksheet, click here:

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