It’s not your job to separate the wheat from the tares
At various times over many years, it has sometimes seemed like my life was a hopeless mix of good and evil forces fighting each other. Sometimes they have been internal struggles and other times the competing good and evil have been external circumstances.
Have you ever felt that way?
The minute something good would happen, Wham! something bad would come along too. Or I would have a moral victory over one sin and suddenly give in to a different temptation.
Some folks shrug this off and say, “That’s the way life is.” They make no effort to stop the roller coaster but just try to hang on the best they can.
I’ll be the first to admit it’s pretty much impossible to get rid of all the ups and downs in life. And we certainly do grow from the challenges that come our way, I certainly have.
But I also feel very strongly that God wants us to exercise the dominion He gave us to meet these challenges, internal or external, and not be swept away with them.
Parable of the tares and the wheat
One of the parables Jesus used to describe the kingdom of heaven has helped me immensely and gives some insight on how to do this.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the parable of the tares of the field in Matthew, Chapter 13:24-30. It’s one of the many parables Jesus told to explain a particular aspect of what the kingdom of heaven was like. I love the way he uses simple stories about every day activities which his followers could relate to.
In this parable, Jesus tells of a farmer who planted good wheat in his field. While everyone was asleep, an enemy came and planted tares, a kind of weed, among the wheat.
When the wheat germinated, so did the weeds.
When can you tell they are tares?
However, these particular weeds, called tares, or darnel to be precise, looked almost exactly like wheat until the seed stalks appeared. So no one noticed a problem until later in the growing season. All the leaves looked basically the same.
Tares are a serious problem in a wheat field because if the tare seeds get mixed in with the wheat when it’s ground, the flour and resulting bread are ruined and become bitter.
In the parable, the laborers went to the farmer and explained the problem. Their solution was to rip out all the tares.
Everyone listening to this parable knew that it can take about three months for wheat plants to grow enough in order to send up the seed stalks. They knew what the problem was before Jesus even got to the explanation. They may have even had tares in their wheat fields and knew from personal experience the problems it caused.
What happens when two plants grow sided by side for three months?
The farmer knew all too well that he roots of the tares would be inter-grown with the roots of the wheat.
And so, in the parable, Jesus explained that the farmer wanted to wait until harvest, because if you pulled out the tares, it would pull out the wheat too. He said to wait until the wheat was ripe. Then he had the reapers harvest the tares first and bind them in bundles to throw in the fire. Next he had the wheat harvested and stored in his barn.
Simple enough. Doesn’t that explain the kingdom of heaven quite clearly?
Well, Jesus’ disciples weren’t so sure. When the crowds dispersed, they asked him privately to explain this parable, which he readily did. (See Matthew 13:36-43)
Who will separate the wheat from the tares?
The one who plants the good seed is the Son of man, referring to himself, Christ.
The field is the world, and the good seed (i.e. the wheat) represents the children of God’s kingdom. The tares are the children of the wicked one, or Satan, who plants them among the wheat.
The harvest is the end of the world.
The reapers are the angels, who gather the tares (everything wicked in the world), bind, and burn them.
Finally the wheat (the righteous children of the kingdom) is harvested and stored in the barn (the kingdom of their Father).
But what does this have to do with my everyday life?
This parable is almost always used to show the big picture of eternity and salvation. But I am increasingly convinced there is also a micro meaning that applies to our day to day experiences.
Have you ever felt your life was like a wheat field full of tares, an endless mix of good and evil forces fighting each other?
Let’s take the lessons from the parable and find our God-given dominion over evil. Here are some things I have found very helpful in this parable of the tares and the wheat.
First: In the “field” of your daily life, it is not Christ who plants the tares
In thinking how this parable applies to daily life, let’s say the field represents your day to day experiences.
Christ does not send evil into your life to test you.
Evil does not come from God or His Messiah. It comes from the “enemy” when we are spiritually asleep.
Be alert to the seeds of evil, such as greed, hatred, revenge, egotism. The list goes on and on.
Something you do from selfish motives may seem to be good until it starts to bear fruit. Then the true motives appear.
Have you ever known someone who was all smiles on the surface and acted like he was your friend, but really he was just using you to manipulate the situation to get what he wanted?
At first it feels like he really cares about you, but eventually his true motives come out and it’s obvious when those motives start bearing fruit, he only cares about himself, even though he thinks he’s fooled everyone.
Second: All the seeds planted by Christ in your life are good and they will all bear fruit
The angels see the good in your life and bring it to the harvest. Not one kernel of good is lost. The angels find it all.
Third: Tares never turn into wheat. Wheat never turns into tares
Don’t try to make evil into something good.
When the tares of evil are blowing right in your face, acknowledge them for what they are. You will be blessed when you turn to God for help.
It’s not the challenge that gives you the blessing. It’s God.
Jesus says the tares are the children of the wicked one, or Satan. He also called Satan the father of lies. (See John 8:44)
Jesus is pointing out that the children of Satan are not people, but lies, lies about God’s children.
None of the wheat, none of the children of the kingdom, perish. Only the children, the lies, of Satan perish in the fire.
You are still wheat
If the wheat gets bruised or dirty, it is still wheat, and is till harvested.
If you have been bruised and had the mud of the world’s thrown on you, or jumped into the worlds mud of sinful behavior, the mud, the sins, the bruisedness, is not part of you.
You are still wheat in the Father’s eyes.
A lot of preachers talk about the tares as wicked people who, they believe, are in danger of hell.
But that’s not what the parable says. When you read it closely, it’s clear Jesus is saying all of the wheat, all the children of God, are “harvested” and stored in the barn, the Father’s kingdom.
My wife pointed out to me one time that if you’re a stalk of wheat with a tare growing next to you, you may look over and see your fellow stalk of wheat.
But if the wind blows a nearby tare into your field of vision, when you look at your neighboring wheat, you suddenly see a tare and falsely assume he is the child of the wicked one.
Smetimes we even believe the lies the wicked one tells about us and think we have turned into a tare.
But we haven’t.
Don’t believe the lies Satan tells about any of God’s children.
Fourth: Don’t try to separate the wheat from the tares prematurely through human will
I have a friend who used to try to solve a problem the minute it became a problem instead of waiting for the ripeness of time.
It would usually make things worse because he was not sensitive to the harm he was doing in the process, the emotions he fueled, and the feelings he tromped on.
Fortunately he is more thoughtful in his approach now. He waits to get a better understanding of the whole situation and the ramifications of different actions he might take.
Another friend pointed out that the farmer’s whole motive was to save the wheat. He knew what was best for the wheat and didn’t get over-preoccupied by the tares.
He didn’t fret about them. He knew he would deal with them in the appropriate way at the right time. He was at peace about this.
God gives us dominion over evil and peace in this awareness.
Fifth: Better yet, let the angels separate the tares from the wheat in your life.
It really is not your job to separate the wheat from the tares.
Trust God to send the specific angels, the specific ideas and inspiration, you need to solve a problem. You might miss a tare or two that will grow another day. They angels are better at it than you are.
Sixth: The tares are harvested first
Why is this important? Good question.
Sometimes it seems like the bad stuff in your life, and the world, is getting all the attention.
Think of reapers going through a wheat field cutting out all the tares.
Let’s pretend you’re the wheat. You know it’s harvest time. You’re ready to be harvested.
You see the reapers harvesting the tares and you might be wondering, “Why do they get to go first? Hey, what about me? I’m over here. Come get me!”
And as they take out the tares around you (the ones in your life), you get jostled around.
You may get bent one way and then another. But your wheat is not being damaged. The angels have lots of experience and know exactly what they’re doing.
It may seem like you’re going through challenging times, getting thrown around, but actually God’s angels are separating the tares, the lies of Satan, from your life.
Seventh: As soon as the tares are harvested, they’re bound together and thrown into the fire to burn
There is strength in unity.
When you tie a bundle of easily bendable stalks together, they become harder to bend and stronger as a whole.
Sometimes it seems evil forces are united against us and become more powerful in our lives.
But this is actually a foreshadowing of their imminent destruction.
When all hell is breaking out in your life and evil is running roughshod over you, it just may be that the angels are “harvesting first the tares,” gathering them together to burn. It may not feel like it at the time, but this is often an early symptom of a victory over evil.
Eighth: The angels don’t leave your wheat in the field to rot
God doesn’t leave your good unprotected. He gathers it all and keeps it safe as a resource for the future.
When you face a challenge and overcome it, that victory is like wheat in the barn. You’ll always have it in the future when you need it.
These are just a few ideas from the parable of the tares and the wheat. There’s always more to get out of something Jesus has taught us. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this parable and how it has been helpful to you.
Jesus repeatedly preached that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (See Matthew 4:17)
How does the “kingdom of heaven [being] at hand” apply to this parable?
Since parable is about the kingdom of heaven and that kingdom is at hand, it applies to the here and now, the kingdom of heaven at hand, in our daily lives.
The angels are always ready to harvest and protect your ripening wheat, the good you are and do. And they always separate the tares, the lies of Satan, from the wheat of our daily lives.
Don’t be impressed when evil screams so loud in your life.
Thank God instead that the angels are actually gathering up the tares, gathering up the evil, gathering up the lies of the wicked one, to destroy them.
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Bible references in this episode:
Matthew 13:24-30 NIV
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ”
John 8:44 NIV
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Matthew 13:36-43 NIV
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.
38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one,
39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.
42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
Matthew 4:17 NKJV
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
*Photo credit: Gordon Converse; Come See the Place: The Holy Land Jesus Knew; Prentice-Hall Inc. Englewood Cliffs, NJ; 1978; p. 50.