Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 84; 148, Nehemiah 2:1-20, Revelation 6:12-7:4, Matthew 13:24-30

Jesus shared several parables about how, in the end, God will separate the good from the evil. He compared them to sheep and goats, good guests and bad guests, and – in today’s parable – wheat and weeds. A farmer sowed good seed in a field, but an enemy snuck in while everyone was asleep and sowed weeds among the wheat. When they started to sprout together, the field hands asked whether they should pull the weeds. The farmer told them not to, because they would uproot the good with the bad. They were to wait until the harvest, when they could be separated safely.

While this parable is primarily about the final judgment, it has other things to tell us as well.

We share the world with many people who don’t share our values. For that matter, we share it with many fellow Christians whose values don’t exactly align with ours. Because this is so, Christians are often tempted to turn our criticisms and judgments outward. Jesus had a parable for that too, one about pointing out the speck in a neighbor’s eye when there’s a log in our own. We are called to repentance … and we are called to invite others to repentance … but we are not called to force it on anyone. That’s between them and God. Jesus’s contemporaries were experts at condemning others for the most minor infractions of the law, yet had very little inclination to turn that criticism on themselves.

Yes scripture contains guidance on responding to those who sin, but arguably it is about those who sin against us, and specifically those who are fellow believers. When we become preoccupied with tearing out the sins we see in others, rather than focusing on changing our own flaws and hearts, the roots of our spirit never have the chance to grow deep. Without deep roots the fruit we bear will be puny, and make for a sorry witness. When we go after others, we damage ourselves.

When we do turn our attention toward others, be they weeds or wheat, perhaps our energy is best spent on tending the common ground by stripping away injustices that poison and enriching it with the mercy and love that feeds our souls. In the end we may not have the power to turn weeds into wheat, but we have a savior who turned water into wine and death into life. Let him decide what’s possible.

Comfort: You are not responsible for someone else’s repentance.

Challenge: You are responsible for letting them know it’s possible.

Prayer: O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! (Psalm 84:8)

Discussion: How distracted do you let yourself get by other people’s lives?

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