We're growing a garden this year in the Hibbard family. We've planted corn, carrots, cantaloupe, broccoli, and tomatoes. Right now, as I look at the garden, I see lots of little green sprouts coming up.
Sounds good, right?
Well, about half of those green sprouts are grass. Some of those sprouts are weeds. A few of them really are the plants we want to grow.
I'm just not sure which ones.
This has shed a whole new light Matthew 13:24-30 for me. This parable teaches about a field sown with both good and bad seed, and how the field owner allowed both types to grow until harvest.
I'm not going to allow both types to grow all the way until harvest, but I do have to let them grow a little while longer. At least some of them I'll have to. Here's the breakdown:
1. There are some sprouts that are obviously grass. I can tell this by the root runners to the grass outside of the garden. Those are coming up right now.
2. There are some sprouts that will show themselves pretty soon: there's two leaves coming off a center-stalk and that's not corn, I don't think. Those come up in another week or two.
3. There are dead leaves. Those can go now too.
4. There are some sprouts that are likely the plants I planted, but they may not bear fruit. Those stay until it's obvious they're not producing.
5. Then there are the sprouts that will produce good fruit. I'll know those in the end.
This illustrates a great many ideas in the Christian life for me.
First of all, and most often applied, this symbolizes various people that we find claiming Christianity. The biggest deal here? We aren't fully capable of making that evaluation. Sometimes, it's obvious at the beginning: that guy who want the church to sacrifice cats, "just in case," he's a dead leaf.
The other thing about people is that the Master is capable of changing them from dead leaves into viable sprouts. After all, had I been a part of First Baptist, Damascus, during Acts 8, I would have planned to skip church the day Saul came to town. However, by Acts 12, I would have moved heaven and earth to get there. So, we have to be very careful when it comes to people. Limiting their influence is appropriate, but limiting their access to the Gospel and the fellowship of believers might go too far.
The other way this applies, I think, is the choices we make as believers. There are some choices we make that are easy to see which ones are good and which are bad. We shouldn't take the obvious grass choices. We should definitely toss the dead leaf choices from our lives.
Yet there are others that we may have to wait and see what's good and what's bad. It will take some time to develop that information. As soon as you see it, though, you act on it. As soon as I can tell that it's a weed and not a corn plant, it's gone.
I can, however, give you two ways to shortcut the process:
1.) Book learning: I have a book about gardening. I'm going to try and compare pictures with plants, and that will help.
2.) Outside help: I live in farm country. I've got a corn farmer who can show me what's corn and what's not. There are others who have gardened and I can rely on their wisdom and experience.
You do see where this is going?
1.)In life, there is first of all the Book: the Bible. This will help you with nearly everything. Then there are other books that help illuminate Biblical principles and values. Those help too, insofar as they don't counter the truth but bring application for it.
2.) There are people with wisdom. Seek them, time after time, to provide guidance. Experience is the best teacher, and there are people that have already learned from experience, so don't re-experience what you don't have to!