Who’s Who? And Why You Don’t Have to Worry About It

Mug Shots of Wheat and Tares

This month’s Experience is an excerpt from the book Christ’s Object Lessons, written more than 100 years ago. The chapter entitled “Tares” presented this parable of Jesus in a fresh light. It’s still fresh.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’  He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’  But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn” ’ ” (Matthew 13:24-30).

Christ’s servants are grieved as they see true and false believers mingled in the church. They long to do something to cleanse the church. Like the servants of the householder, they are ready to uproot the tares. But Christ says to them, “Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.”

Christ has plainly taught that those who persist in open sin must be separated from the church, but He has not committed to us the work of judging character and motive. He knows our nature too well to entrust this work to us. Should we try to uproot from the church those whom we suppose to be spurious Christians, we should be sure to make mistakes. Often we regard as hopeless subjects the very ones whom Christ is drawing to Himself. Were we to deal with these souls according to our imperfect judgment, it would perhaps extinguish their last hope. Many who think themselves Christians will at last be found wanting. Many will be in heaven who their neighbors supposed would never enter there. Man judges from appearance, but God judges the heart. The tares and the wheat are to grow together until the harvest; and the harvest is the end of probationary time.

There is in the Savior’s words another lesson, a lesson of wonderful forbearance and tender love. As the tares have their roots closely intertwined with those of the good grain, so false brethren in the church may be closely linked with true disciples. The real character of these pretended believers is not fully manifested. Were they to be separated from the church, others might be caused to stumble, who but for this would have remained steadfast.

The teaching of this parable is illustrated in God’s own dealing with men and angels. Satan is a deceiver. When he sinned in heaven, even the loyal angels did not fully discern his character. This was why God did not at once destroy Satan. Had He done so, the holy angels would not have perceived the justice and love of God. A doubt of God’s goodness would have been as evil seed that would yield the bitter fruit of sin and woe. Therefore the author of evil was spared,  to fully develop his character. Through long ages God has borne the anguish of beholding the work of evil, He has given the infinite Gift of Calvary, rather than leave any to be deceived by the misrepresentations of the wicked one; for the tares could not be plucked up without danger of uprooting the precious grain. And shall we not be as forbearing toward our fellow men as the Lord of heaven and earth is toward Satan?

The world has no right to doubt the truth of Christianity because there are unworthy members in the church, nor should Christians become disheartened because of these false brethren. How was it with the early church? Ananias and Sapphira joined themselves to the disciples. Simon Magus was baptized. Demas, who forsook Paul, had been counted a believer. Judas Iscariot was numbered with the apostles. The Redeemer does not want to lose one soul; His experience with Judas is recorded to show His long patience with perverse human nature; and He bids us bear with it as He has borne. He has said that false brethren will be found in the church until the close of time.

Notwithstanding Christ’s warning, men have sought to uproot the tares. To punish those who were supposed to be evildoers, the church has had recourse to the civil power. Those who differed from the established doctrines have been imprisoned, put to torture and to death, at the instigation of men who claimed to be acting under the sanction of Christ. But it is the spirit of Satan, not the Spirit of Christ, that inspires such acts. This is Satan’s own method of bringing the world under his dominion. God has been misrepresented through the church by this way of dealing with those supposed to be heretics.

Not judgment and condemnation of others, but humility and distrust of self, is the teaching of Christ’s parable. Not all that is sown in the field is good grain. The fact that men are in the church does not prove them Christians.

The tares closely resembled the wheat while the blades were green; but when the field was white for the harvest, the worthless weeds bore no likeness to the wheat that bowed under the weight of its full, ripe heads. Sinners who make a pretension of piety mingle for a time with the true followers of Christ, and the semblance of Christianity is calculated to deceive many; but in the harvest of the world there will be no likeness between good and evil. Then those who have joined the church, but who have not joined Christ, will be manifest.

The tares are permitted to grow among the wheat, to have all the advantage of sun and shower; but in the time of harvest ye shall “return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not” (Malachi 3:18, KJV). Christ Himself will decide who are worthy to dwell with the family of heaven. He will judge every man according to his words and his works. Profession is as nothing in the scale. It is character that decides destiny.

The Savior does not point forward to a time when all the tares become wheat. The wheat and tares grow together until the harvest, the end of the world. Then the tares are bound in bundles to be burned, and the wheat is gathered into the garner of God. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

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Why do good things happen to bad people? Why do bad things happen to good people? What is a “good” person? What makes a person “bad”? It is natural to have either a high or low opinion of someone based on personal interaction. Jesus calls His followers to use the same standard of good and bad as He does. In the parable of the sower Jesus makes some very powerful and relevant assertions about who is good and bad. I invite you to join us in seeking the mind of God in this study entitled “Till the End.”

Day 1 -Read Matthew 13:24-30

In the Bible, in the book of Matthew, Jesus routinely starts His parables with “The kingdom of heaven is like. . .” In preparation for this study it would be helpful to get to a place where we are mindful of the kingdom of heaven. Go to YouTube and search for “Will You Be Ready?” by Commissioned, or input the link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=U93vR8R3qFI. While the song plays, read Matthew 6:33 and meditate on what the kingdom of heaven is. Take note of the various similes Jesus uses for the kingdom of heaven in the book of Matthew. Share it with us at Message via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook, 

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Day 2 -Read Matthew 13:24-30

The parable of the wheat and the tares is among a number of stories that assume an understanding of agriculture. Very few people in technologically developed places know the ins and outs of farming. Before going further it would be profitable to research wheat and tares. Search for a picture of a comparison of wheat and tares. What do you see? What does it reveal? Share it with us at Message via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook, 

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Day 3

Have you ever been misjudged? Has your gender, race, or status ever caused you to be treated a certain way? I would suggest that one of the methods that God uses to teach us to be gracious is to allow us to go through situations in which we yearn for grace. In his book A Love Worth Giving, Max Lucado explores “The 7:47 principle.” You can learn about the 7:47 principle by reading Luke 7:36-48. What does verse 47 teach you about love and grace? Share it with us at Message via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook,
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Day 4

Did you notice when you looked at the pictures of wheat and tares that they look exactly the same? Jesus implied that those who are good and bad are almost identical. Think about this implication, that those who are good and bad in the present are nearly identical. What makes a person good or bad? Share it with us at Message via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook,
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Day 5 -Read Matthew 13:30

My church recently had a conversation about what a person can do to make them hard to be around. The answers ranged from someone who steals to someone who is a pedophile. Some talked passionately about how they couldn’t stomach being around people who have been involved in certain activities. The reason this is significant in the context of this study is because of the treatment the Master tells His servants to give the tares until the harvest. He does not tell them to sort and segregate them. He does not order them to be harsh or decisive. Instead He orders that they receive the same treatment that the wheat gets. It’s amazing to think about the fact that the tares received the same attention and care that the wheat did. How should this revelation affect how we treat people? What does this mean when it comes to those who sin openly? Should we change how we view those around us? Share it with us at Message via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook, 

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Day 6

Now, you are wondering what the determining factor or difference is with wheat and tares. The only way to know the difference between wheat and tares is that at harvest, wheat bares a light brown kernel, tares bare a black kernel, and you can barely tell the difference until the plant has fully matured. Is it possible that when it comes to people that we do not know if they are good or bad until they have fully matured? If we determine that someone is a tare before they have fully matured, do we not run the risk of stunting growth, and pulling up something that was meant to be in the Master’s barn? Is it possible to truly look at everyone we come in contact with as a potential kingdom dweller? Tell about it if this is something that is feasible in your mind. Share it with us at Message via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook,
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Day 7 Wrap Up

Sometimes it is not “till the end” that we know if even we are wheat or tares. How then can we go about our lives looking at people as such if we don’t know what we are ourselves? I want to encourage you to go about life dispensing grace, love, and mercy, for that is what God has given to you and will continue “till the end.”  

 

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RASHAD BURDEN is a youth and young adult pastor for the Buckhead Fellowship in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

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