The Bible often references agrarian principles. If we sow good seed, in time we reap good crops. Beyond planting and harvesting, we are responsible for removing weeds. Weeds rob the intended crop of nutrients and moisture that are essential to reach full potential.
For some, those weeds are selfishness, deceitfulness, pride, unfaithfulness, and other personal character deficits. For others, the weeds implanted in their otherwise well-maintained lives and hearts are actually people. Not all people, of course, but those who masquerade as high quality crops or workers when they are not, as caring and selfless friends who are anything but, as ardent supporters who are merely pandering in order to plunder another’s harvest, as hardworking fellow farmers while conceiving shortcuts, as peers of sweat equity when their sweat is contrived.
Determining what to do with those persistent weeds is the most agonizing of all, requiring God’s wisdom, discernment, and strength, and even after the weeds are reconciled, His ongoing comfort and encouragement.
On this topic, the following is a prayerful letter I wrote many years ago to a friend, using metaphors of farming. Perhaps it will be helpful to someone else today who is dealing with “people weeds”.
I hope that your farmstead is vibrant, with your loved ones happily working together to produce an abundant crop. I pray that as the one responsible for your farmstead, you have God’s direction and wisdom to plant, tend and disperse your harvest wisely.
May you farm well, so that God will be able to fill your barns with the golden grains of His harvest. May your crops be abundant and ready for harvest, in fields that are not visible to passing motorists. May they remain hidden, remote from public viewing, until God determines the optimal time for harvest.
May your barns be filled with a bountiful harvest, the grain golden, supreme, and uncommon, unexpected in quality and abundant in quantity.
Of your crop, let locals remark in surprise, “How did this harvest come from this area? How did it come from this farmer? I’ve never seen this before, from that farm. I wasn’t even watching for that farmer’s harvest. I didn’t expect it from him/ her. I was expecting it from the hyped newcomers, the ones talked about, the ones the community gathers around for polished speeches and proud displays of grains.
“But this grain from this unexpected farmer is undeniably of God … superior in quality, true, golden and not hoarded or boasted about. Instead of displaying his grain for all to admire, he quietly goes about sharing his harvest with those in true need. The grain from the unexpected farmstead satisfies hunger and is shared like the sharing of heirloom seeds, for those who receive to plant for ongoing production and multiplication.”
May you sow and tend your crops with an honorable heart and a tender spirit. Though relationships may crumble, if you have been diligent to farm well, you mustn’t determine that you are the cause. You can’t overcome the will of another. Consider patriarchs of the Old Testament. Many men stood alone in righteousness, while surrounded by dishonorable people.
Let people own responsibility for their choices and thinking, and don’t incorrectly determine that their wrong thinking is due to you. Do you have more power than God himself exerts over people? Even God does not force righteousness on people, though He has labored to convince them that righteousness is best. When they choose to disregard goodness in favor of selfishness, He walks away from them, allowing them their choice. He moves on to be in relationship with people who want Him, who love Him, who talk and listen and include Him. Should you do differently than the Lord himself does with people?
Because you farm faithfully, respectfully, and carefully, you will yet see the fruits of your diligence. There is ample time in your life ahead for goodness, maturity, kindness, zeal, love, sharing, abundance, nobility, respect, and the honor you are due.
Would a good farmer be satisfied with a crop of thorns and weeds? Should you be satisfied with a life that includes thorns, when you have in fact sown fine seed and tended your fields by consistently living righteously? Your diligence is not overlooked by God, though your community has failed to commend you, or your crop has yet to flourish.
It is time for you to consider the thorns that you see on your farmstead. Who sowed these weeds? Not you, but another — it was not you who planted them.
What then, should you do about them? Ignore them? Allow them? What would a good farmer do? Wouldn’t he focus on them, rather than ignore them? Won’t they grow and multiply if he ignores them? Don’t excellent farmers eradicate weeds? What if those weeds are people, you say? What then?
Focus on them. Put your ear to God, and ask about those weeds. You want to be responsible and righteous, above all. You don’t first seek happiness. You first seek righteousness, which is commendable. However, you have misguidedly overlooked weeds, believing it was the right thing to do. Is it?
Consider the weeds. What are they rooted in? God soil? — then leave them be, they may yet transform. But you know who is not rooted in “God soil”; who is rooted in what opposes God. Does the plant want to be transplanted into God’s soil? You know it does not. It wants to live and move and have its being in the soil which opposes God. Or competes with God.
A plant bears good fruit or it does not. If the plant does not want to be transplanted into righteous soil and has shown this by its actions (ignore its verbiage) time and time again, it is like the fig tree that failed to bear fruit in a year and so was ordered chopped down. You cannot change the mind of another. Each is free to choose.
A house divided cannot stand. If the house is your farmstead, will ignoring divisiveness and thorns yield improved crops? No, of course not. The crops will worsen, not improve. Your own field will worsen, not improve. It will fail to produce the pure, fine crops that reflect who you are.
It is time for your harvest. You have been a diligent farmer whose crops are of high caliber. Separate your fields of golden grains from others’ fields of thorns. Enjoy the harvest of your fields. Love the harvest of your fields. Share wisely, with those whose hearts are amenable to God’s ways, not with those who steal or trample on God’s harvest.
It is time for you to reap the abundant, golden crop that you planted and tended, and have longed to harvest.
Matthew 7:6 “”Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
Leviticus 26:3-4 “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.”
Matthew 13 3 Then Jesus used stories to teach them many things. He told them this story: “A farmer went out to sow seed. 4 While he was scattering the seed, some of it fell by the road. The birds came and ate all that seed. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where there was not enough dirt. It grew very fast there, because the soil was not deep. 6 But when the sun rose, it burned the plants. The plants died because they did not have deep roots. 7 Some other seed fell among thorny weeds. The weeds grew and stopped the good plants from growing.8 But some of the seed fell on good ground. There it grew and made grain. Some plants made 100 times more grain, some 60 times more, and some 30 times more.
Psalms 65:9-10 You visit the earth and cause it to overflow; You greatly enrich it; The stream of God is full of water; You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth. You water its furrows abundantly, You settle its ridges, You soften it with showers, You bless its growth.