“The Son of Man will send out His
angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and
those who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 13:41)
The Greek word for “gather”
in our verse for today, means to collect, to gather up, and it
includes the action of weeding a field or garden. In this parable
of Scripture, Jesus is speaking directly about how things “will
be at the end of this age” (Matthew 13:40), but it is also a process that
is occurring right now.
We needed advice from our friend, Steve Wack, and he
kindly returned my call the other day. I was out of breath when I answered, and
it must have sounded like I was ready to stop breathing, as I gasped “Hello”
into the telephone. I told him, “We’re weeding,” as
an explanation for why I sounded that way. We talked about weeds for a few moments and he
remarked, “There’s a sermon in there somewhere,”
and when I thought about it, he’s RIGHT – there is a “sermon
of the weeds” waiting to be told.
Steve and I discussed the idea for a few minutes.
Scripture indicts us all with words like: “The heart is
deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”
(Jeremiah 17:9). And Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned
and come short of the glory of God.” The God of creation planted a fine
“crop” when he set humanity in motion, and it’s astonishing that weeds came up!
We have become “weeds” in God’s garden.
The weeding we've been doing in the back yard is
essential. We had the house painted and any weeds had to be taken away from
the walls so the place could receive a proper coat of paint. We prefer
flowers and shrubs anyway – not weeds. And since it's our house,
we can do what we want. And please note that God is the Owner of us
all, and He can do with US what He wants. He is the Good Gardener and all of
us should look to Him.
It's amazing that God did not destroy the human
race when we sinned in the first place. We were in a perfect garden, and our
ancestors were perfect as well, inside and out, not subject to vanity or pride
as we are today. When Jesus explained the parable of the “wheat and tares”
(weeds) in Matthew 13, He said, “He who sows the good seed
is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the
kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one” (Matthew
13:37-38). He continued, “The enemy who sowed them is the
devil” (Matthew 13:39). This one called "the enemy"
indeed sowed the seeds, but humanity acted in concert with him –
we have no excuse in the sight of God.
Right there it would be the end of the story if you and
I somehow were in the role of God. I don’t know about you, but if there are
weeds growing in my garden, I want to uproot them and plant something I DO like.
But God did not uproot us. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, so
that you and I might begin to understand our need,
and see the glory of God’s grace. By accepting the “good seed” of Jesus Christ into
our hearts and lives, we are not uprooted after all, but instead a process
begins in which we are made fit for God’s holy garden. Beautiful flowers
begin to come forth between the weeds.
Steve Wack observed the process in this manner: “God
plucks the weeds out of our soul, so the good wheat in us is not ripped out.”
The Lord’s intention is that “the righteous will shine
forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father,” and Jesus continued: “He
who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:43). Do you “hear”
the message that is being given? If it impacts your “heart” and draws you
to the Lord, there is hope. Only those who are being drawn by the Holy Spirit of
God can hear and understand.
The process of “weeding” in God’s garden is very much
weeding of your garden at home. And if we say we have no “weeds” in our
hearts and lives, we lie to ourselves and to God. Scripture puts it
this way: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive
ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). And here’s how the
weeds (sins) are eradicated from your life and mine: “If
we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
The Holy Spirit of God is very busy in your life and
mine, revealing the sins that are in us, including not only the big, obvious
ones, but also the more subtle ones, like pride and covetousness. As a people,
we want to feel good about ourselves and want everything we can get in life,
which leads to all sorts of problems. The more subtle sins can be the worst of
all because we tend to deny that they are even present in our
To “confess our sins” is to
take them to the Master Gardener. You’ve been trying to deal with your
shortcomings, but the Lord has a more effective idea. He brings a heavenly “lawn
and gardening service” to our deficiencies and does what we cannot. We keep
finding our weaknesses and/or denying them as the case may be, and we’re
exhausted from the process. The Lord Himself “shall
neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4) and He is ready to meet your needs.
You are the leaseholder of the property which you call
“your body.” He not only owns the world and everything in it, but He also is the
true, ultimate owner of even what you think is yours, including your brain,
heart and other vital organs. You have possession at this time, but He is the
Owner, and He has the right to "weed" the garden of your soul.
This process in our lives is very much like
weeding a front or back yard. You’ve noticed that the weeds just keep on
growing. Years ago, I weeded with more vigor than I do now. I would
spend a day every weekend, intensely rooting out every weed I could find,
utilizing what I referred to as a “scorched earth policy” to get rid of them.
I’m not as intense about weeding these days, but the problem
remains. The weeds still grow.
There is much in our lives that needs to be removed –
and the process is important to God because you are HIS garden, not your own. "Do
you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom
you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Let
Him “gather out of His kingdom all things that offend”
(Matthew 13:41) by giving Him yourself; you are rightly His anyway. LISTEN to the Holy Spirit of
God right now. He has much for you to hear. Confess to
God what He already knows and “He is faithful and
just to forgive,” wonderfully healing you and me.
Father, reveal my sins, and cleanse me as I
bring them to You. In Jesus Name. Amen.