10-11-15 HARVEST TIME

HARVEST TIME

October 11, 2015

          Today's Gospel reading (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) proves that the Lord has infinitely more patience than I do.  He said to leave the weeds in the field with the wheat until the harvest.  Now, anyone who looks at my prayer garden outside knows that me and weeds don't get along!  The minute they poke their ugly little heads above the ground, I am ready to pull them out, dig them out, or spray them with weed killer.  And yet, here is the Lord saying we are to leave the weeds alone, and let them grow together with the wheat.  What is God trying to tell us here? 

          First of all, having been an avid gardener all my life (as I know some of you are as well), I have no trouble telling which plants are weeds and which are not, even when they are very small.  But especially when they start to grow, it becomes more and more evident.  Weeds like to take over.  They have no respect for the flowers and have no remorse whatsoever for drinking up their water, blocking their sunlight, soaking up their nutrients, and invading their space.  (And yes, I am also speaking in a parable, so keep that in mind).  The flowers in turn, have to be strong to stand their own among the weeds.  Their roots have to be deeper, they have to grow thicker stems, and they have to bloom in spite of the opposition from the weeds.  If they do not, they will wither and die, and the weeds will be all that is left in the garden.

          So perhaps this is one of the reasons God said to leave the weeds alone?  So the flowers become stronger?  It has been proven over and over throughout history that whenever Christians have been heavily persecuted, their faith and their conviction grow stronger, not weaker.

          But what if there were no 'weeds' in our lives?  For one thing, we would never have a chance to learn discernment.  Even though, as I noted earlier, I can readily tell a weed from a flower, someone with no gardening experience could easily mistake a weed for a flower, and vice versa.  They might uproot and kill a flower thinking it is a weed.  Or give extra fertilizer to a weed thinking it is a flower, thus encouraging it to become even more of a threat to the real flowers.  So it is with the spirit of discernment.  If a Christian does not have it, they might easily be fooled by a 'weed' that looks like a 'flower'.  My husband actually likes fields of dandelions when they are all blooming and looking like a field of sunshine.  But I see their true nature, knowing they will quickly take over, and their yellow blooms turn to white balls of seeds that blow everywhere with the slightest breeze.  Their roots go down very deep and are difficult to dig out.  Pretty soon, if left to their own devices, there will be nothing left in their path, and they will multiply rapidly.  But many weeds are not as easily recognized as are dandelions.  Look around you.  Look at the person next to you, in front of you, behind you.  The person you work with.  Your neighbor.  Even your closest friends and family.  Can you say for absolutely, positively certain whether they are wheat or weed (a true Christian or not?).

          Here's something else to consider as to why the Lord said to leave the weeds in with the wheat¦  There are some weeds that are more invasive than others, and their roots intertwine with those of the flowers, making their removal difficult without damaging the flowers as well (as Jesus noted in Matthew 13:29).  Interpret that as how the life of an unbeliever and your own can become dependent on each other.  Perhaps your boss at work.  Or your delinquent child.  You can't always easily remove such people from your life without damage to your own.  Therefore, our Lord told us to let them be, and at harvest time He will pull up the weeds and throw them in the fire.  He doesn't say we have to encourage their bad behavior, but we are to leave them among us and share this world with them.  As we heard in our Epistle reading, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."  (Galatians 6:10)

          And I thought of one more thing...  Just imagine what would happen if we, subject to our human natures, did not have any 'weeds' in our life.  We would start to take the many blessings we receive from God in life for granted.  Actual flowers, which are not subject to sin, might thrive and bloom all the more beautifully without the weeds; but we as human beings, would tend to become complacent, conceited, and a bit too content.

          When He returns to gather the wheat into the barn, the weeds won't be gathered in with us.  They will be bundled together and thrown into the fire.  Then we will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of our Father forever.  And God doesn't make mistakes.  He won't confuse the wheat and the weeds.  He won't leave any wheat behind.  And He won't let any weeds escape the fire.  It will indeed be a time of rejoicing for us.

          Yes, harvest time is upon us.  Jesus told His disciples, "I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvest.  (John 4:35)  But He also followed that with "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field."  We must be busy preparing the 'crop' for the Lord, for He will be here soon, and many souls are not yet ready.  Many have not made that crucial decision for Christ.  We are warned in the Book of Joel (3:13,14) that God will tell His angels, "Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.  Come, tread, for the wine press is full; the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.  Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!  For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision."  We must spread the seed of the Word, and nurture the crop until the Lord returns, so that the harvest will be bountiful!

          And I will end today's message with the very last verses of the Bible, "He who testifies to these things said, 'Yes, I am coming quickly.' Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all."  Amen.  (Revelation 22:20,21)