There’s a somewhat convoluted tale related in the Scriptures about a farmer who plants good seed in a large field. However, as the seedlings begin to mature and ripen for harvest, it becomes apparent that the field has been contaminated. Weeds (tares) are everywhere! With dismay, the workers who have labored diligently face the prospect of ruining the harvest. The weeds are competing with the plants for nutrients, but if they are removed, the harvest will be ruined because the crops are not yet fully matured. (Matthew 13:24-30 KJV)
This crisis becomes an issue for the Master whose advise is sought regarding what to do. As the Householder (as he is referenced in some versions) surveys the damage, he gives an interesting assessment. First of all, he zeros in on the one responsible for the corruption. ‘An enemy has done this’. This damage is not a result of a lack of diligence or laziness on the part of the workers. Rather, it is deliberate, mean-spirited and intended to cause harm.
This story came to mind recently as I contemplated the difficulty of setting things right, especially when these issues have become habits or patterns of thought and behavior that have been in place for a long time. Not every issue that we face can be solved instantly. Sometimes, the chaos is so deeply embedded within the psyche that healing requires more than simply applying standard or seemingly straightforward solutions.
There are issues in life which involve different parties, some which may be unwilling or unable to make wise choices. Going in with the sledge hammer of human judgement can do more harm than good because discrimination is required when sorting out the solution. Evil is not always obvious. Nor is the task of determining who is the perpetrator versus the victim always clearly defined.
The fact is that we have all sinned. We are all to some degree a mixed bag of tares and wheat. When Jesus confronts a woman who has been caught in adultery and brought to him to pronounce judgement, he turns the table and asks the expectant crowd to cast the stones, but with the caveat that the first stone must be thrown by one who has never sinned. Beginning with the oldest, the crowd begins to disperse. (John 8: 1-11)
Which brings me back to the wheat and tares. The work of the Spirit of God here on earth is to gather the tares in our lives. It is through grace, that we are even brought to an awareness of how deeply the soil of our souls has been contaminated. As God matures us into his likeness, he uses various agents to identify and bundle together that which is not fit for healthy consumption.
I used to think that this parable only related to the end of time, but I see that the work of the Kingdom of God is ongoing, starting here and earth and on to eternity. God loves us too much to simply let us be. Just as spring time and harvest will continue, in the same way this process is ongoing in our lives and as we cooperate in listening and yielding to God’s inspired instruction will enable a true harvest of righteousness in our lives. So within the despair of a life which seems to be so imperfect, there is really good news. God is able, God is willing to perfect that which concerns me and you if we will let him.