Thursday, April 11, 2019

Some Thoughts on the Parable of the Wheat and Tares


24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matt. 13:24-30)

To me, this parable is about the church and how the church ends up with a mix of people in it, both good and bad. We wish it were all good, but of course people have their choice and at the same time that God does His work, Satan is also on the march, seeking to destroy faith and tempting to sin. It stands to reason that at the same time that God has His successes, Satan is going to have his as well, even in the church.

At the beginning, all the seed looks the same, but over time when the fruits of our works start to appear, then it becomes clear that some fruits are good, and other fruits are…not so great. Naturally, the bad fruits concern us, and we want to correct the people who were responsible or root them out.

To the desire to gather out the tares, Jesus says “Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.” Rooting out the bad requires a surgical precision and accuracy. Our knowledge is so often incomplete that we can’t always see the line between the good and the evil or the causes behind each, so if we were to try to root out the bad, we might accidently condemn something good that had been intertwined with it. Good people might see the condemnation and say to themselves, “I have those qualities in myself too; I must be evil as well,” and become discouraged and self-condemning. Or we might not root out all the bad and thereby give those left some reason for self-justification and complacency.

Instead, Jesus says, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” The key word there is grow. Both good and evil does not remain the same over time. They both grow. Evil that was present only in thought or intent eventually become action, and if it isn’t arrested by repentance, it multiplies into a pattern of behavior, then grows into a habit, and hardens into a way of life. And naturally, patterns of life may be hidden for a while, but eventually they manifest in stronger and bolder public actions. When evil gets that big, then it can be dealt with by church discipline.


In the same way, good that was only sporadic likewise turns into a pattern, then a habit, then a confirmed way of living that brings a rich harvest of blessings.
So how does this parable help us? If we’re wise, we will look at everything we do and think about what it might turn into if it is grows bigger and stronger in our life. If we don’t like what it will become, we need to squash it. If we want more, we need to nurture it.

Our errors and mistakes and sins will magnify over time if we don’t repent and overcome them.  Laziness will turn into inactivity and spiritual apathy. Unbelief and fault-finding will grow into apostasy. Looking to lust will turn into adultery. Occasional meanness and flashes of temper will grow into cruelty and abuse.

On the other hand, our service will become sacrifice. Diligence in the scriptures will become the skills of a scriptorian. Kindness will become deep charity. Following the promptings of the Spirit will make us a mighty instrument in the hands of God. Paying regular tithing will become complete and total consecration. Encouraging others will become inspirational leadership. Exerting a particle of faith over and over turns into the ability to move mountains and work wonders.

No doubt the Lord wants us find the tares in our own character and weed them out before they grow into something so malignant and poisonous that requires others to remove us out of the kingdom. He also wants us to continue to nurture the goodness within us that we can eventually enjoy the unspeakable satisfaction of heaven’s favor.