Weeding

They say a weed is just a plant growing in the wrong place, but when it’s your wrong place they’re growing in weeds are very frustrating.  Though it has to be said, every weed does have it’s place and purpose – it may just not be where we want it to be.

After last weeks advice on sowing, Jesus this week moves on to the thorny (sorry, really bad pun!) issue of weeds.

A farmer has done his sowing.  He has picked good seed, prepared his field and got the seed into it.  What he didn’t know was that someone else had come along and sown rogue seed into his field.  Not the beautiful wheat he had planned and so carefully prepared, but weeds.

His workers wanted to pull up the weeds, to get rid of them.  Perfectly understandable, because they may get in the way or ruin the young wheat plants.  They would certainly make the job of harvesting much harder.

But the wise counsel of the farmer was to leave the weeds.  To go pulling them up would disturb the soil, some good wheat plants may get pulled up too, safer to leave them growing together.

This parable kind of turns what we think of as sensible on its head (how often does Jesus do that?!)

If, as Jesus says, this parable is about the world and people in it, we may think it’s the best thing to do to get the weeds out – to remove all bad influences.  After all, we campaign for debt relief, we work for the removal of hunger and poverty, and this last week has shown the campaign to try to rid our press of bad influences.

But there are some weeds that can stay.  How odd.  As a parent, I naturally want to remove all obstacles from my children’s lives, but that does not always help.  They need to learn how to tackle them themselves.  They need to learn how to live with difficulties.  It is all part of the growing process.  Perhaps that is what Jesus is alluding to in the weeds being left in.

Perhaps there is also something in who decides what is a weed and what is not.  Perhaps what we might pull up as a weed is actually a beautiful flower to God.

We don’t want the good seed choking, but neither do we want good, if different, flowers uprooting and being thrown on the compost heap.

There will come a time for the weeds to be separated out says Jesus – but that time is not now, and the decision as to what are weeds is not ours, but God’s.  He may prompt us to get some weeds out now, but not all.

So, I think we need to be careful.  There are things that will choke the life from the good seed if left in the ground – and they need to be dealt with, but there are things that aren’t. There are plants that to me are strange and unfamiliar – but that does not mean they are necessarily weeds.  They may be an added bonus of colour or texture to the garden.  How often I need to consult a reference to see what a stray plant is, to see if I should leave it to grow or not.  If God is the one who makes the final choice of which and when weeds are pulled up, we need to use him as our reference as to what we get busy with pulling up in the world.  It’s not about our preferences, but his. It’s not about what I think, but what God thinks.

God is the farmer, but we are his workers.  Let’s refer to him and do as he asks.

Lord,

the world is yours.

There is good seed

and bad seed.

We do not always know the difference.

We want to get rid of things that are strange

or unfamiliar,

but they may be guests sent by you;

we may want to get rid of

what seems to make life more difficult,

but perhaps it has a purpose

that we can not yet see.

Yet there are things that need to be got rid of,

and removed now.

Lord help us to weed

with your eye

and your heart,

that we may work with you

and not against you

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