The warmth of the spring sun is a seasonal signal to me that its time to think about planting. It is just the delightful incentive I need for a trip to the garden store.
I purchased a bag full of seed packets with their vivid illustrations of ripe vegetables. I envisioned that my plot of earth would soon be a productive garden burgeoning with delicious vegetables ready to harvest. I knew that I had to get the garden planted before my husband, Jim, and I left on an extended international trip.
After rototilling and raking the soil, I planted row after row of tiny seeds, and gently sprinkled them with water. Before Jim and I left, I showed our children how to water the newly-seeded garden bed.
Before I could join him, he began energetically weeding. He was a test pilot – not a gardener. He didn’t know one green seedling from another. To my horror, I saw that he had not only pulled up weeds, but a pile of vegetable plants as well. “Stop!” I shouted. “You’re pulling up the vegetables too.” He felt bad, and left the chore for me to finish.
This experience reminded me of the parable of wheat and tares that JESUS taught to his disciples. Tares, (also known as Darnel), is a weed that resembles wheat. In Matthew 13:24-30, the landowner sowed wheat seed over his soil. Later, when the servants were asleep, an enemy of the landowner saw his chance, and broadcast handfuls of tare seeds among the wheat. As they sprouted, and became seedlings the wheat and tare plants looked alike, but later, when the wheat ear appeared, the difference would be seen. The servants asked, “Didn’t you sow good seed in your field?”
Yes he had. He replied, “An enemy has done this.”
The servants asked if they should pull out the weeds. Surprisingly, the landowner said, “No.” Then he explained why. “While you are gathering up the tares, you will uproot the wheat as well. Let both grow together until the harvest.” He knew that at harvest time, the bountiful heads of the ripened wheat would bow forward, but the weeds would stand up defiantly straight. The reapers would be able to see the difference, and could bundle the weeds for burning, and gather the wheat into the owner’s barn.
JESUS explained the story privately to His disciples in verses 36-43. (paraphrased): The one who sows the good wheat seed is JESUS, the poisonous tare seeds are sown by the evil one – the Devil. The field is the world. The good seeds are the children of GOD, but the tares are the children of evil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. The doers of evil will be cast into the fire of damnation, and the righteous will shine as the sun in the Father’s kingdom.
“Kingdom living” requires us to follow GOD’S instructions with an obedient, yielding heart. Only at the time of harvest will the difference be known; the separation of the false from the true. GOD is the judge of hearts.
Despite Jim’s good intentions, his overzealous weeding was not helpful. We know that we can trust JESUS, the gardener of all creation, to sow the seeds of fruitfulness into our hearts, and faithfully tend the gardens of our lives.