In Jesus’s teachings, in many of His parables, He talks a lot about how sin and sinners are mixed into the world among the righteous. We know from the parable of the wheat and the weeds, for instance, that the Lord has said that they’ll continue to grow together until the final judgement, when He separates them.
I’d always read those at face value, let’s call it. That, as Jesus explains, there are the righteous and the sinners.
But there’s another layer of subtlety to it (don’t you just love how Scripture is so rich that it allows for all these layers of meaning??) that our pastor has been drawing out this year.
That it isn’t just THE WORLD that is filled with both righteous and sinners. It’s US too.
Within each of us, there is the goodness of God…and there is sin. Within each of us is corruption and incorruption. Within each of us is the virtue that pulls us closer and closer to the light of the Lord, and the tendency toward evil that’s always trying to drag us back into the darkness of the world.
A couple weeks ago, after a sermon focused on that idea from the parable of the Wheat and the Weeds, my husband pointed out very thoughtfully that sometimes–often?–it isn’t even just that we let those weeds grow among the good stuff. It’s that we tend those weeds with as much care as we do the wheat.
That pierced. Because I know it’s true in me. How often do I cling to–nurture, feed–the bitterness of an old grudge, because it’s strangely satisfying? How often do I cling to a comfortable understanding instead stretching into a new one? How often do I cling to old prejudices? Or embrace new ones? How often do I cling to the thought of me over them?
How often do we tend our weeds so carefully that we soon insist they’re not weeds at all? Look how tall they’ve grown! Look how hardy!
In the P&P group, as we show each other our gardens and favorite plants, we’ve had some moments of laughter as we share yards that are green more from weeds than grass, because that’s what actually grows. And in a lawn, I really don’t care if it’s more clover than grass in some places, because it’s just a lawn.
But in my spirit? In my soul? I ought to care. I ought to look with more care on what I’m growing, what I’m tending, which plants are healthy and strong. Because I don’t want it to be the sins.
Of course, the rebel in me asks, “What makes something a weed, anyway?” According to the definition, it’s used to describe plants growing where they are not desired, especially when they choke out the desirable plants.
Ahh. That’s actually really good. Because even if someone decides they do want that weed–we all know people who like their prejudices, their bitternesses, their agression, their selfishness, right?–that doesn’t make it a good plant because it’s choking out the MORE desirable ones.
When we nurture prejudice, it chokes out love. When we nurture bitterness, it chokes out forgiveness.
When we nurture selfishness, it chokes out Jesus, who pointed us always toward loving our neighbor and our God above ourselves.
For the purposes of the parables, I think it’s safe to say that the “desirable” plants are the ones that bear fruit. They are the wheat, the vines, the olive trees. They are the ones that sustain our spirits, not just our flesh. That draw us closer to Him and to each other.
The weeds…the weeds aren’t just the people that do otherwise. They are the parts of us that do otherwise. That lead us astray. Make us lazy. Blind our eyes to His loving Truth and substitute our own tarnished version in its place.
But we’re called to #BeBetter. We’re called to nurture the good seed instead of the bad. Will it still be there? It will. Because until we reach our final perfection in Him, we know we keep on sinning, keep on fighting that urge to sin. But we shouldn’t be fertilizing those. Pruning them. Maximizing their growth. We should, when we can, be weeding them out. And when we can’t, when like in that parable they’re too closely entwined with the good, we should pay attention to our seasons of harvest, at the least. Like a field, we don’t have just one at the end of our lives. We have many seasons, many harvests.
What have we produced this year? This season?
Evaluate it. Which parts are good? Which parts will nourish ourselves and our families and others…and which parts deserve only to be thrown into the fire?
When we put our trust in the Lord, He sees His own righteousness in us and that sanctifies and saves us. But He makes it pretty clear that we’re still expected to work always toward tending that garden plot of our lives, of our souls. We’re to be always striving forward, onward. And we can, because He lends us His wisdom and strength and goodness.
What weeds have we been tending too carefully, friends? Which ones are choking out His promises?