Working Through the Weeds

 

In the famous parable of the sower, Jesus speaks of the seed of faith sown in different types of spiritual soil with widely varying results.

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

“Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

“Other seed fell among the thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.

“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — 100, 60 or 30 times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13: 3-9).

Later in the passage, Jesus tells us that the seed sown in the thorns — or, if you will, in the tall weeds — was choked out and became unfruitful because of the “worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth” (Matthew 13:22).

The words of Jesus remind us that both the “worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth” are sins that separate us from a relationship with God.

Instead of trusting him, we worry. Instead of depending upon him, we pretend that our wealth will keep us safe.

As we harvest our fields of sweet corn, we sometimes come to an area where the spray rig operator did a poor job of overlapping the seam when spraying herbicides to control weeds.

As a result, this area will have weeds, sometimes a bumper crop of them. Such was the case this past week. We marveled at the difference in size and quality of the sweet corn in the field we were harvesting.

In weed-free ground, we found beautifully large, well-developed ears. Just a couple of rows away in a weed patch full of lamb’s quarter, we found only small, unattractive, poorly developed ears.

In the same way, when we allow weeds — sin — to interfere with our relationship with the Lord, the Spirit will not produce the fruit God intended for us to produce and our witness is severely damaged.

We might still produce some fruit for God’s kingdom, but nothing compared with what he planned for us.

Why weren’t these weeds removed? Small weeds — sins — are easy to ignore, and it takes effort to remove them.

In the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Yes, and the weeds get bigger and bigger.

Soon, there is no easy way to remove the weeds in our lives. Their root systems are so well established that pulling them out would wreak havoc in our lives and the lives of others.

Sin is deadly serious business, as it separates us from the living God. The time to remove weeds is when they are young.

A wonderful book, “Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus,” reminds us that the rabbis of Jesus’ day were so serious about sin that they tried to put “a fence around the Torah.”

In simple terms, they added interpretations designed to keep people far away from the possibility of breaking the law and sinning.

They did this because they rightly viewed sin as something that did not stay static. Like weeds, it only grows and gets worse.

Unfortunately, the unintended consequences were legalism and a focus on satisfying the minimum demands of the law.

Jesus also talked a lot about sin. His approach was not the law’s minimum, but its maximum, the intent and fulfillment of the law.

In Matthew 5, Jesus reminds us that not committing murder is not enough. Being angry with a brother is how the progression of sin begins. Anger leads to resentment, which leads to hate, which leads to grudges. And sometimes an emotional spark can lead to actual murder.

This is why we need a savior and the indwelling of the Spirit. By ourselves, given the deceitfulness of wealth, we would always be tempted to put off the weed removal for another day.

Meanwhile, the weeds of our life grow and retard our God-ordained potential and, even worse, impede our relationship with the Lord.

 

this post was originally published in Lancaster Farming - September 15, 2017