“[Jesus spoke] another parable, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?” He said to them, “An enemy has done this.” So the servants said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he said, “No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let 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.’”’” Matthew 13:24-30
At first glance, it seems a prudent request to uproot the weeds that have infiltrated the good crop. After all, they would steal some of the soil’s nourishment, and likely weaken the wheat meant to grow healthy for harvest. But the Master who sees the big picture has a broader understanding of what has happened and why. He knows that weeds come from the enemy, but he also knows how the presence of enemy opposition helps the strong grow stronger.
We might be tempted to remove from our lives people who do not share our beliefs and goals, near-sightedly thinking they will hinder our maturity and sanctification. We are to grow up in Christ, but not to separate ourselves from those unlike us. We are to grow together, living godly lives among them. We are not to become like them, but neither are we to excuse complacency or apathy against growing spiritually because of them. It is by living alongside them that we can grow into all the Lord intends us to be as we are chiseled and honed and forced to dig deep and remain true. He uses weeds to refine faith, shape character, and develop resolve to maturity. And when we are faithful to our identity, sometimes they grow to see in us who Christ is. (Ephesians 4:13-16)
We must remember, as both wheat and weeds spring from the same soil, all men are made in God’s image, and we as Christians are not superior to those who know not Jesus. We are different, and follow different gods. The Lord God is the final and perfect judge. He holds each one accountable and executes righteous judgment in the end. (Genesis 1:26-28; Romans 14:10,11; James 4:12)
Have we by choice isolated ourselves into a bubble of like people, and thus stunted our growth? Have we grown nit-picky, haughty, or catty? Do we value certain individuals more than others, and play preferences in our regular company and workplace? What weeds has the Lord allowed to grow alongside us, and are we thriving as His children, or making complaint and excuse? How are we influencing and making a difference through behavior, conversation, or specific acts of love and compassion?
Lord, keep it my aim to grow up in You in all my life places. Keep me faithful and vibrant and true to You, to the end.