Have you ever felt your life was an endless mix of good and evil forces fighting each other? Sometimes it seems the minute something wonderful happens, Wham! something bad comes along too. 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 impossible to get rid of all the ups and downs in life. And we certainly do grow from the challenges that come our way, but I also feel very strongly that God wants us to exercise the dominion He gave us to meet these challenges and not be swept away with them. One of the parables Jesus used to describe the kingdom of heaven gives some insight on how to do this.
You’re probably familiar with the parable of the tares of the field in Matthew, Chapter 13. Jesus tells of a farmer who planted good wheat. At night “while men slept,” an enemy came and planted tares, a kind of weed, among the wheat. When the wheat germinated, so did the weeds. 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.
Tares are a serious problem in the 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 if not poisonous.
The helpers went to the farmer and explained the problem. Their solution was to rip out all the tares. But the farmer knew the roots of the tares were inter-grown with the roots of the wheat. If you pulled out the tares, it would pull out the wheat too. He waited until the wheat was ripe then 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.
The one who plants the good seed is 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 Satan, who plants them among the wheat. 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.
I’ll repeat the question at the first of this post: Have you ever felt your life was an endless mix of good and evil forces fighting each other? Is your life a mix of tares and wheat?
Let’s take the lessons from the parable and find our God-given dominion over evil.
First: In the “field” of your daily life, it is not Christ who plants the tares.
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, etc. 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 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.
Fourth: Don’t try to separate the tares and wheat in your life 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.
Fifth: Better yet, let the angels separate the tares from the wheat in your life.
Trust God to send the specific angels 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? Sometimes it seems like the bad stuff is getting all the attention. Think of reapers going through a wheat field cutting out all the tares. If you’re the wheat, you might be thinking, “Why do they get to go first? Hey, what about me?” And as they take out the tares, you get jostled around. When the angels come to you and take away the tares, it may be a jolt. You may get tossed around a bit. 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.
Seventh: The tares are bound together and thrown into the fire to burn.
When you tie a bundle of easily bendable stalks together, they become 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 it seems like 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.
Angels don’t leave your good unprotected, but gather it all and keep 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.
Jesus repeatedly preached that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Since that is true, this parable of the tares and wheat does not just apply to the ultimate victory over evil at the end of time. It applies to the here and now of our daily lives. The angels are always ready to harvest your ripening wheat and sort out the tares. Don’t be impressed when evil screams so loud in your life. Thank God that the angels are actually gathering it up to destroy it.
If you found this helpful, please leave a comment below. And I’d love to hear your thoughts or any experiences when the tares have been separated from the wheat in your life.
As always, many blessings,