Wheat and Weeds

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Text: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43



The world is a field.  We are the Wheat.

It’s very easy to be a discouraged Christian. Look around the world and see the apparent victory of evil on so many fronts, in so many places. Yet, Jesus says we should look at it another way: the world is God’s field, and no matter how much the evil weeds mess with the Father’s wheat, come harvest time, they will be dealt with.

This is encouraging news for the Christian. Jesus reminds us that there are more of the faithful, more of those who have not bowed the knee to Baal, more of those whose core values are still biblical ones, than we sometimes realize. Yes, the “children of evil” exist and they do damage to the crop, but they exist in a field that is predominantly a field of wheat, not weeds.

Wheat and weeds: What’s the difference?

The first difference between wheat and weeds is that wheat is always in the row that you planted it; whereas, weeds will be scattered all over, especially between the rows. Wheat follows the rules, as it were, obeys the farmer’s commands, grows where the farmer has planted it. Weeds, on the other hand, are renegades, exist all over, obey no “rules” and grow wherever they want.

A second difference is that wheat pretty much all look the same. The head with the seeds, the beard, the chaff. Weeds on the other hand, are all completely different.

  • Some are like vines. They cluster and grow along the top of the ground.
  • Some have pretty flowers and are very deceiving.
  • Some grow tall and are clumped into bushes.
  • Some grow like camouflage. They look like wheat when they are small and young, but when they grow up they change appearance and are mature enough to do damage to the wheat.

A third difference is that wheat multiplies only by planting. The farmer plants the seed and a crop and harvest ensue. Not so with weeds:

  • Some weeds multiply by spreading their seeds through the air on the back of your local wind.
  • Some weeds spread their bounty when wildlife eat the seeds and then travel for miles, expelling the seeds from their mouth or droppings.
  • Some weeds multiply by having such a deep root system that nothing can eliminate the roots and therefore they always survive.

A Strong Crop Means Weak Weeds

A first line of defense in dealing with weeds is to cultivate the fields before the wheat is planted. The ground is left fallow during the summer months. This way, although the weeds grow when there’s moisture, as soon as the ground is dry and before the weeds are big, the farmer can go out into the field and cultivate the ground, while at the same time enriching the ground with fresh oxygen and natural fertilizer.

But there are other ways to remove or control weeds. But these methods involve the use of herbicides. This can be problematic, even though herbicides will harm only one weed while leaving the wheat or other weeds unharmed. But spraying can be very harmful to natural predators such as ladybugs, moths, bees and birds. Also some chemicals can seep into the ground and harm the natural organisms there, such as the bacteria that make fertilizer, break down the weed stubble and make mulch, thus leaving the ground much more fertile and organic.

So, what can be done? A very natural way of preventing weeds is to have such a strong and thick wheat crop, it will outgrow any weeds. Such a crop will cover the ground, little or no space for weeds to grow. Wheat will also shade the ground, making it too cold for weeds. By shading the ground with thick and healthy wheat, the crop takes away the oxygen and sunlight the weeds need to grow strong.

It Will All Be Sorted Out in the End

Are some weeds worse than others?  Yes, some weeds are worse. Wheat farmers will tell you that bindweed or morning glory is at the top of the most-wanted list of bad weeds. It’s almost impossible to kill. It has a very deep root system that multiplies and grows like a tubular plant. It is a vine weed, so it grows close to the ground and cannot be seen in a tall wheat field. It loves water and will use it all.

Right behind bindweed is the Canadian Thistle. It too is almost impossible to kill. It makes its seed with a flower that matures and dries up like a piece of cotton, and the mature seed spreads with the wind.

And there are so many types of weeds that can infiltrate a healthy field of wheat, such as pigweed, wild lettuce, wild grasses, tumbleweeds, and even sunflowers.

Do the weeds affect the quality of the crop? Weeds can really affect the quantity and quality of the wheat crop. If weeds are allowed to grow and multiply, they will suck out all of the precious water needed to grow a wheat crop. When the wheat is deprived of water and nutrients, it produces a smaller head, and the kernels will not only be small but lack nutrients. Wheat is sold by the bushel and quality of the seed. When a field does not yield as many bushels and the size of the seed is small, the profit for the farmer is likewise much smaller.

Our job is to keep growing!

Remarkably, Jesus doesn’t offer a grand plan for getting rid of the weeds that plague the field of wheat. There’s no protocol for waging war on weeds. There are no rules of engagement about marching into a field of wheat to root out the weeds.

In fact, Jesus says that we should go about our business. Our job is to be wheat, not weeds. We’re not called to be the farmer. Rooting up weeds is not part of our job description. We’d like to rain down hellfire and brimstone, but Jesus counsels us otherwise. Wheat farmers say that at harvest the dry weeds will just blow right through the combine.

Be the wheat:

  • Grow in the row in which you were planted.
  • Grow tall and strong and crowd out the weeds.
  • Let your influence shade out or deprive the weeds of sunlight and water they need to survive.
  • Don’t be a stalk of wheat in a field by yourself. Grow with others in a community of wheat.
  • No stalk of wheat worries about a weed nearby; the farmer’s going to take care of that weed.

God has a plan. We can trust the plan.