The Trouble with Weeds

“The field is the world; and the good seed–these are the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one.”  Matthew 13:38

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The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (weeds) is a lesson drawn from the garden, about seeds and planting and weeds and harvesting. Gardening is something I really enjoy doing, and if you’re into it too, you’re very aware that gardening can be tricky, especially if you start your plants from seed. When your newly planted seeds begin to emerge, it’s difficult sometimes to tell the difference between your intended crop and the weeds that sprout up to choke them out. The trouble with weeds is that they have an incredible ability to mimic other plants. I think that’s why the master tells his workers to let the young sprouts his enemy has sown be, until it’s harvest time, when it’s much easier to tell what’s what.

Recently, I read an interesting commentary on Matthew 13:38, where Jesus is explaining to his followers the meaning of the parable he just told about the wheat and the weeds. The most striking part of the commentary was this:

“He [Satan] has spies, moles, and plants right in the church…smack-dab amongst us, and they are so cleverly disguised that we cannot tell the difference between them and true Christians. They are so well disguised that they do not know who they are! “

Wait, what? They don’t even know who they serve? We’re normally taught that we live among the weeds, but we sit with them in church, too? Yes, we do. It’s so tempting to get wrapped up in the idea of Satan having sons and servants that we can easily misunderstand what Jesus is telling us, and what I thought was a key point presented in the article: Weeds are not easily recognized when viewed at ground level, when we’re stuck in the mud right next to each other. Did Caiaphas know that he wasn’t serving God when he hatched the plot to have Jesus arrested and killed? No, he didn’t. He thought his actions were responsible and righteous, that he was serving God! What about Paul? Did he know before that fateful day on the road to Damascus, when God smacked him up side the head and asked, “why do you persecute me?” He, as well, thought he was serving God, but wasn’t.

The point of the commentary was not that Satan has sons, servants, ministers and even apostles, which according scripture is most certainly true, but that they are like the young weeds in the garden. They, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:15, “disguise themselves as servants of righteousness,” making them practically indistinguishable from true believers. Like the weeds in the parable, they are planted among us, and not just in the house next door, the cubical beside us, or, sometimes, at the Holiday dinner table, but also, in the pew in front of us, unwittingly working against us, against the tender, young sprouts of “good” seed which the Master’s servants have sown. Our enemy is that subtle in his efforts hijack God’s plan and to steer us in the wrong direction, away from the path that Jesus came to show us, and ultimately away from the Father.

~SLM

“but test everything; hold fast to what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21

 

Proverbs 3:9-10 The Notion of Fruits

Proverbs 3:9-10 is a study in giving and receiving; verse 9 covers the giving, and 10 the getting. In a previous post, I learned that a part of being wise is the consideration of getting what you give, of reaping what you sew, and it seems to me that verses 9-10 are a confirmation of this. So we begin with the contemplation of the notion of fruits, first fruits to be specific.

These verses are closely linked with the concept of tithing, of giving of one’s prosperity, one’s wealth. Verse 9 states:” Honor the Lord with thy substance, and give him of the first of all thy fruits:” What exactly are first fruits? Are they the very first red, ripe and juicy tomatoes we pick from the vine, are they the payment we receive for our daily labors, or are they more esoteric concepts? It occurs to me that the idea applies to so much more than just money, and I would argue that our “first fruits” are all of the above. The word substance implies your talents, your time, your knowledge, your love, and If we truly believe that all things come from God, that we are merely the stewards of his gifts, and if we are to honor God with the best part of our riches, then without doubt these things are meant to be given too. Surely we are meant to be generous with all that we are given.

Verse 10 states: “And thy barns shall be filled with abundance, and thy presses shall run over with wine.” So, the concept of paying it forward comes from God. If we want our lives to be filled to overflowing, then we must first share what we have been given. We must give joyously and willingly in the full knowledge and trust that God will bless us greatly for our efforts.

~SLM

Proverbs 3:1-8 It’s a Matter of Trust

At first glance, this chapter seemed to me a repeat of the first 2, a rehashing of the concepts previously discussed. I’m not fond of covering ground twice, so I glanced ahead a few chapters, and I discovered that chapters 1-10 cover a lot of the same principles. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent girl, and I’m not opposed to expounding on a theme, but, on the surface, the reiteration looked rather excessive to me, and had this been a novel, I’d have stopped right there. But this is not a novel, and I have committed myself to this study. I wondered what could be so important. There must be a reason that Solomon found it necessary to repeatedly stress the concepts of faith, love, and the fear of the Lord. I decided to take another tack.

I find that writing verses in my own words can provide insight into their meaning. So I set about writing the verses, praying over their meaning, asking to be given awareness, knowledge, and comprehension of their deeper meaning. And then I slept on it, as is my habit when I’m really engrossed in trying to understand.

This morning, it dawned on me (quite literally, in fact), it’s a matter of trust. Verses 5-6 cover trust, and what my closer look showed me is that until you really, really get the concepts of faith, obedience, love and “fear of the Lord” embedded into your very being, it’s very hard to really, really trust. When we’re children, it’s so easy to trust, but as we grow and mature, we tend to get the trust “experienced” right out of us. We learn to be skeptical, suspicious, and faithless. We have to get the ideas expressed in verses 1-4 so ingrained in us that they are “written on our hearts, as if they are written on stone,” before we can move on to trust. Verses 3-4 are about love and faithfulness, but before love and faithfulness, we have to learn to keep the teachings of wisdom, the commandments of God, which must first be written on our hearts.

Verses 1-2 look more closely at wisdom’s teaching. It’s through the keeping of God’s commands, by writing them on our hearts, that we can remember the teachings of wisdom, and by following wisdom’s guidance, we can live long and prosperous lives. Such a simple concept: Live by God’s commandments, remember them, write them on your heart, and by doing this you open yourself to God’s wisdom, and opening ourselves to wisdom enables us to practice discernment, helping us to consider who we associate with, and how we can live honestly and fairly. Living this way leads to prosperity, not just physical prosperity, but more importantly spiritual prosperity, brought to us through love and faithfulness.

Verses 3-4, to me, convey a very good description of what Christian thought is all about – Love and Faithfulness. They are core concepts and you should be so attached to them that you and they are inseparable, that they become second nature to you, that you express them in everything you do. They are an outcropping of keeping God’s commands and the remembrance of wisdom’s teaching, a natural result listening to the voice of wisdom. By showing love and faithfulness in everything you do, you will find favor with God, and be held in good esteem with him, and by your friends, acquaintances, and mankind.

And all this leads to trust. It’s all about trust. Trust God with all your heart, with all your being. What does this mean? I think that it means to be able to say “Lord, I know you see this situation, and while I have no idea how it could ever resolve itself, I know that you do, and I’m putting the ball in your court, you take, because I know and have faith that you can and will provide for it and work it out according to your plan.”

And, after all that, verses 7-8 warn us about the importance of keeping our own greatness in perspective. It reminds us that we shouldn’t think too much of our own genius, because when we get caught up in our own idea of how brilliant we are, we are usually setting ourselves up for a little slice of “humble pie.” We should reverence the source of our “wisdom” and give credit where credit is due. By humbly acknowledging that we are merely the channel for God’s spirit, we bring sustenance and strength to our very beings.

It’s funny how, when you really take the time to study something, how much more that can be seen, than when you make only a cursory glance, like seeing the individual threads in the tapestry, and how they work together to make a complete picture, an image that would not appear the same, if just one of the threads were only slightly different.

I guess I had a lot to say about it afterall! 🙂
~SLM