don’t pull the weeds

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

“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?’

‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling up the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 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.'”

Matthew 13: 24-30

Even if you’ve read this parable before, it’s probably not one you frequently revisit for insight into your situation.

If you know what the Enneagram is, I’m a One. Most people call One’s “The Perfectionist,” but I prefer the nicer version: “The Reformer.” That sounds a bit more gracious and less like a party crasher. Being a One often means you’re not everyone’s favorite person because you prefer to follow the rules, to force excellence in fear of failure, and sometimes seek out knowledge because you have a compulsion to know everything. Another fun trait I have is processing and chewing on things until I understand them. This explains why I have a degree in Philosophy. (I can feel your cringe through the screen, it’s okay.)

It also explains why I’m sharing this passage of scripture with you. It nagged me for many weeks. You know how we sometimes read the Bible as if we already know what happens? Yeah, we need to stop doing that. We should read scripture with fresh eyes every time we pick it up, because God will show us different things in different seasons.

Speaking of seasons, farmers know that there is a planting season and a harvest season. In this parable, we’re somewhere in between. The landowner and his servants have just planted a field of wheat, but by the time it begins to grow, they realize that someone has planted weeds in their wheat field. The servants ask if they want the weeds pulled, because they know it will prove difficult to harvest the intended crop when there’s an “infection” growing amongst it.

Here’s the interesting part: the landowner says to leave the weeds, so that the roots of the wheat can continue to grow strong, instead of potentially being pulled up with the weeds.

As a recovering perfectionist, I would absolutely jump to pull the weeds. Why would we want to encourage their growth? Why ruin my crop because someone else has it out for me? Also, will everyone else think I’m lazy or a bad farmer because there are weeds in my field? I definitely don’t want others thinking that this is my first rodeo.

See my problem? While there is so much more to be said about this passage, here are the three biggest takeaways:

1. I am responsible for my field, not what everyone thinks about my field.
This might seem a bit “duh” to you, but apply this to your life for a second. How many times have you let someone’s opinions, the victory of others, or your framing affect you?
You are the landowner here. You get to decide what grows in your field. Do you want everyone else’s weeds? Of course not. One of my worst habits is just writing those weed-planters out of my life instead of learning something from them. Let the weeds grow – let them talk. Let them think they’re winning until the harvest, because their lies are shallow compared to the crop growing beside it.

2. Play the field, not the weed-sower.
Everybody loves to point a finger. Some people say “that’s a sign of disrespect in some cultures,” but I think it’s disrespectful period. Blaming someone for what you’re going through is the first sign of immaturity. You’re the landowner, not the land-blamer. Owning your field is the first step to playing it well – that’s why they call it the home-field advantage, right?
Whenever weeds are planted in your field, you’re going to go through the five classic stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Feeling these emotions and needs is not immature, but living in the first four certainly is. So, what did the landowner do in the parable? He played the long game. He obviously had the experience, resources, and vision to see the outcome before anyone else did, including his servants. Take a note from Kenny Rogers and “know when to hold ’em.”

3. Win quietly; the victory speaks for itself.
And here’s the pièce de résistance: you do not have to put the weed-sower on trial to prove yourself. You can celebrate just as well with your bundles of wheat in the confines of your quiet barn.
Unless you want a flag for excessive celebration, do not mock justice because Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
You know what that weed-sower is harvesting right now? Nothing. Because his crop (the weeds) are just smoke signals; you burned the infection right out of your field. It’s the ultimate Iron Man snap to your Thanos problem.

Nestled in the middle of Matthew Chapter 13 was this hidden gem that my brain couldn’t stop thinking about. Sometimes owning that I’m a One works out to my advantage. Just like the landowner in the story, if I don’t own who I am, how can God use my field to grow something good? …Even if there are weeds!

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