The Word on Weeds

Botanically weeds are simply competitors. They sprout in vast numbers, they start reproducing when very young, they make many seeds, they are stress tolerant, they are great competitors, they even reproduce without sex. The more you chop at them, each tiny piece can grow into a whole new weed plant, the more you have!

Agriculturally we worry about weeds out-competing our crop plants or at least vastly decreasing the yield. This is the reason that science has developed herbicides...especially selective herbicides that can kill weeds among our crop plants. Maybe you have heard of "weed and feed," a fertilizer for your lawn mixed with poison for its weeds.

The Bible gives us some writings on weeds. As always here, the words of Jesus are written in red.

In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13: 1-23) Jesus makes a comment about the effect of weeds upon a crop:

Matthew 13:7
7"Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them."
Jesus goes on to give the disciples an interpretation of this part of the parable, using the seeds being sown as a metaphor for the word of God (LOVE) being sown into people:
Matthew 13:22
22"As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful."
I like to think about the weeds as the cares and riches that we all carry around as excess baggage. These can get in the way of our focus on Love as the word of God. If we are careful to cultivate Love and weed out the cares and riches of our world from our thinking, then we will be truly blessed and Love will thrive in us. Just as in our botanical garden, we need to eradicate weeds to allow our plants to thrive, bloom, and bear fruit.

Spiritually we sometimes hope for a weed-killer that would take away the cares and riches of the world and the problems they bring to our spirituality. Nevertheless the Bible includes another clarification on this idea:

Matthew 13:24-30
24 Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field;
25 but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.
27And the servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?'
28He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?'
29But he said, 'No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
30Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
Here Jesus is saying that some of these cares and riches are placed into our lives and we must live with them. We cannot and should not eliminate them entirely. Focusing our attention too highly on our cares and riches could uproot and destroy God's Love in us. Rather, we are to live alongside our cares and riches, letting our crop of Love compete with these weeds. But importantly, it is the Love we have in the end that determines whether we will be gathered into God's barn. The weeds are useless, to be bundled and burned in the end.

As a gardener, our energies can be consumed with the discouraging task of weed control, to the point that our love of gardening can be diminished. Jesus is warning us of that, and to remember that we are judged on our gardening not on our weeding. Weeding could result in our weak resignation from gardening with the resulting disaster in the end. Jesus' liberating idea of cultivating our spiritual garden, is that we need no hoes, rototillers, or weed-whackers. Paul tells us:

Romans 12
2Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
and he also wrote:
Philippians 4
8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
In other words, rather than hacking at weeds we are to look to Love as our guide. We are to keep our eyes on the prize...the grain...the Love of God. This is how we cultivate the love in us, by not concentrating our efforts upon weeds (the cares and riches of the world) but instead working toward a bumper crop...of Love.

Any crop that overtops the weeds will bear well, and this is the message. Fertilize our crop and forget the herbicide for the weeds.

Paul understood quite clearly what Jesus meant by paying too much attention to weeding (the cares and riches of the world) and not enough attention to the crop (love). He wrote to Timothy about it quite clearly:

1 Timothy 6:2-10
2Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brethren; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties.
3If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness,
4he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissention, slander, base suspicions,
5and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
6There is great gain in godliness with contentment;
7for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world;
8but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
9But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
10For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.
Paul is underscoring the folly of focusing only upon the weeding (working on the cares and riches of the world). This also harks back on some more of Jesus' botanical metaphors:
Matthew 6: 28-34
28 "And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin;
29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
32 For the Gentiles seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day."
That is excellent advice. Every day will have its cares and riches, but let them take care of themselves. Don't look to the past or future in terms of these weeds. Deal with them only today. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is a new day.

Paul goes on to exhort us to instead keep our eye on the crop (love) today, to nurture it and express it, and to build up heavenly cares and treasures that are the crop of love.

1 Timothy 6: 11-19
11But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
12Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
13In the presence of God who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,
14I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ;
15and this will be made manifest at the proper time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
16who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

17As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy.
18They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous,
19thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed.

These words of Paul are also founded in the words of Christ:
Matthew 6: 19-24
19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal,
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
22 The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light;
23 but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. That is the crux of this message of Jesus and retaught by Paul.

Sometimes we are kind of dense in our heads, and need to have a point driven home a second time. The disciples were no exception. Jesus had to explain the parable of the weeds a second time:

Matthew 13:36-43
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field."
37 He answered,"He who sows the good seed is the Son of man;
38 The field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one,
39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.
40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.
41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers,
42 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear."
In the last day, the cares and riches of the world mean absolutely nothing. Only love endures forever. Therefore we are to cultivate and encourage, to affirm and confirm, to lift and ennoble ourselves and each other to a higher state of loving.

The commandment (not hundreds, not ten--just one!) Paul was talking about was Jesus' one commandment. This is the positive thing; the one thing we must do.

Matthew 22: 34-40
34But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together.
35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him.
36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"
37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38 This is the great and first commandment.
39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

Mark 12: 28-31
28And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?"
29Jesus answered, "The first is,'Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one;
30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'
31 The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Now if these two passages are not clear, John's account is very explicit about the commandment:
John 13: 34-35
34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 15: 9-17
9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.
10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."

12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
17 This I command you, to love one another."

Jesus said it twice, just like his interpretation of the parable of the weeds, to be sure it was fully understood. The weeds, the cares and riches of the world, are with us to be dealt with on a one-day-at-a-time basis. The love of God and each other, that is the cultivation that we keep uppermost and continuously in our minds. That love is what marks us as His children and worthy of His saving grace. Keeping our minds and eyes on the prize we are to nurture that love through the seasons of our life into full bloom and full fruit.
Philippians 4
8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

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