Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went his way. Matthew 13: 24 – 25
The wages of sin are death, but if you’re honest, it sure looks like all those doomed sinners are racking up the gold and silver as well! Don’t pretend you’re shocked: you’ve surely had the same nagging idea over the years. Hollywood celebs party in luxury digs with imported liquor and designer drugs in twosomes and threesomes and other configurations too sordid to mention. New York financiers buy vacation homes in Switzerland and yachts and expensive European cars. If the name of God ever passes through any of their minds, it can only be in profanity or mockery. The meek will inherit the earth, but in the meantime, the pagans clearly own it.
On your worst days, it can be disheartening. When I was a struggling seminary student trying to save up enough change to do my laundry, it did not escape me that rockers like Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney had servants doing their laundry while they were eating gourmet meals on holiday. “God, that’s not right. What I make in a year, those guys spend in one day on the French Riviera!”
Strangely, those old complaints drifted back into my mind last weekend as I was working in my backyard. I noticed how quickly the weeds spring up in the flower beds and how quickly they grow. The good plants need time and care and water, but weeds can grow 12″ tall in a couple of hours on a hot, dry day! Sometimes they even look more unusual and interesting than the bedding plants, at least for a couple of days. Then their true nature comes out and they flaunt their weirdness and choke out their neighboring plants. An attentive gardener pulls them up and- just like that– they are gone. They were life without purpose.
The parable of the tares is not about lost people in the church, although their number is legion. It’s about unbelievers in the world. They seem to thrive. They seem to have all the advantages. There is no end to their sensual, narcissistic appetites. Read Psalm 37:1 and you’ll see how irritating this pattern could occasionally be for people like for Old Testament saints like David.
Don’t fret. Just remember that weeds look bigger, stronger and more successful only for a season- a very short season. Then they are gone, leaving the bedding plants to thrive and glorify God through their beauty and benefits. You and I should pray for the celebs in Hollywood and NYC to repent and rely upon God’s grace. We can even learn something from their addictive behavior and self destructive obsessions. But we should never envy them or suppose that God is unjust. The Father promises us something richer and bigger and more satisfying; a life of never ending joy in his presence. That is after all what always made the Promised Land so promising: the presence of the Most High God. With apologies to James Bond, I won’t hold out for that Aston Martin after all.
“Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.” Psalm 37:34
Lift up the cross!