Can You Tell the Flowers From the Weeds?

Last week, while outside playing, my children scooped up a bunch of flowers from the back yard and brought them in to me. I love flowers, and I especially love it when my kids have tender moments and make little efforts like that to remind me that – even though they don’t always act like it – they really do love me. So I squealed with motherly delight and put them in a vase on the dining room table, where I would be reminded every day of their sweet gesture.

The flowers were a bright yellow, cheery in their presence. I noticed that they shriveled up after a couple of days and I thought, as I went to bed, that I would have to throw them out in the morning. To my surprise, however, when the sunlight from the french doors hit them the next day, they perked right up and opened into full blossom again! I watched this happen over and over again for about a week, amazed at how they seemed to sleep and rise with the rest of the house. Those little flowers have brought me a great big dose of joy….

Except that they weren’t really flowers. I knew this the day my kids picked them because we don’t grow any flowers in our back yard – at least not intentionally. The whole yard, except for a foot-wide margin all the way around the fence, is covered in cement – perfect for a trampoline and roller skate derby and bicycle obstacle course…and whatever else a child’s wild imagination can decide to use it for. The only thing that grows in that narrow margin of soil, I’m afraid, are beastly weeds.

We try to keep them under control, but when life hits the spin cycle, weed duty gets compromised. I’m pretty sure at least one of the kids knew they had picked a bunch of weeds, but also knew I would appreciate them anyway – because they were pretty, and because they came from him. The littlest one had no idea, and could have cared less if I’d told her. To her, a weed is a flower and a flower is a weed – who cares?! I didn’t.

But the reason I didn’t care was because I had nothing to protect. There is no garden in my backyard, so those weeds aren’t interfering with anything. Normally, weeds are a very unwanted presence because they wreak a lot of havoc among the desirable plants. I’m no expert in agricultural cultivation, but I do know that weeds can rob the good plants of their nutrients, take over the territory of a garden, and even intertwine their roots with the root systems of what we wanted to grow, choking out the life of our favorite plants. When present in a space that has been cultivated with intention, weeds are a force to be reckoned with, and ignoring them yields great danger and disappointment in a beloved garden.

While neglected weeds in the natural, physical world can be harmless in their own space – and on our kitchen tables, they correspond to a spiritual reality that we can’t really afford to ignore. I tend to think of God’s Word – the truth – in our lives like the flowers that are intentionally planted in a garden. They’re the things in our lives that we work on, the character we cooperate with God in growing and refining. He plants the seed of His Word in our hearts, and as we grow in His Spirit, drawing power from the life of Christ in us, we grow into what He purposed us to be.

Weeds, on the other hand, represent the deceptive lies which are embedded in the world all around us. In their own spaces, they can be harmless to our growth, but when embraced and allowed to invade our hearts, minds, homes, churches and lives, they can ruin us. This is a tragedy we’ve seen happen too many times, as people who once knew Jesus eventually drift into a compromised version of the gospel and live lives that no longer resemble His at all. They have the form of Godliness, but lack any power for transformation and imitation of the One Who pulled us out of darkness and called us to live lives full of light.

I wonder, especially as I raise children, how often we stop to think about the presence and possible repurcussions of the weeds we find all around us, and tend to pay so little mind to. Is it enough to just live, appreciating everything and tolerating it in the name of “peace”? Is there anything wrong or dangerous about entertaining and embracing the stuff our culture feeds on, as long as we maintain a confession of faith in Christ? Do the weeds of deception really have the power to uproot the fruit of God’s Spirit in our hearts and lives? How much discretion do we really need to exercise in order to protect what God has implanted and invested in us?

Scripture speaks specifically to these questions, in Matthew 13, where several parables are told through an agricultural lens. In the first parable, our hearts are likened to the soil in which God plants the seed of His Word. Depending on the condition of our hearts (a.k.a. the soil in our gardens), the seeds of truth will either be snatched up, wither away, be choked out by weeds and thorns, or take root and bear fruit.

The weeds or thorns in this passage, according to verse 22, represent the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of its riches. In other words, when our hearts entertain and embrace the distractions and the enticing things the world around us is consumed by, the truth is suffocated and becomes unfruitful. It’s ultimate purpose is thwarted.

This is important because so often, we naively accept beautiful bunches of weeds, thinking they are harmless. We mistakenly believe that God will do whatever He has purposed to do through His Word, and that we have no part to play in it. But if we read the Bible, it becomes very clear that what we do with His Word determines whether it produces His plans or not (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+7%3A24-27&version=NLT). We can’t host a table of lies and expect that the truth, just because it’s stronger, will win out.

Don’t misunderstand me. I believe in the power of God’s Word. It is mighty and effective, and sent to accomplish God’s intentions. But if we look around us, we see plenty of evidence that God’s intentions, when not embraced and given the cultivated space to thrive in, are not coming to pass in every human life that has simply heard and professed to believe His Word. What we see more of are lives that are suffering from the strangulation of truth because of the presence of too easily embraced lies.

Ultimately, there is a bigger picture which Scripture pans out to give us a view of. Just a few verses later, Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the tares. This story depicts the greater territory of the whole world as the field in which God has planted His seeds, and the seeds mentioned here are the sons and daughters who are made in His image – whose lives have embraced the seed of His Word and produced the fruit of His Spirit. He sows such ones in the field of the world, to establish His Kingdom, and they grow and mature until the end of time, when they are collected and their lives harvested for the “wheat” they have produced.

Alongside these believers, however, the enemy has also sown his seed – his weeds. These are the sons and daughters who have embraced his deception and have a choking effect on the wheat which God has sown. These are compromised lives – ones that look very much like the wheat, but end up only empty husks at the end of time. This may seem harmless enough, if they will come to their own end, and if we don’t have a burden for such lost souls. Except that they’ve been sown for more than their own self-destructive end, and God’s seed in us is meant to produce a crop that cares about more than just its own survival.

The seeds of the enemy have been sent and sown to disrupt and deceive the lives which God has planted. And when ignored, or worse yet, tolerated and embraced, they can not only hinder progress, but derail purpose altogether. And the end of both the good seed and the bad is destruction.

We have to pay attention to this because, just as my pretty little bunch of weeds on the dining room table seemed harmless enough, so many of the deceptions and diversions of our day seem like they’re no big deal. We tend to give them more room than we should in our lives, often to the point that we don’t even recognize that they are weeds and not flowers. The messages – and messengers – of deception in our day are clever and disguised to sound a lot like truth, so we will easily embrace them. But when we try to mix truth with deception, and allow them to coexist, we suddenly find ourselves choking and engaged in a struggle to survive. When all along, God intended for us to be thriving.

In the parable of the wheat and tares, the farmer (Jesus) instructs His servants, who suddenly notice that tares have been sown right alongside the wheat, to leave them alone. What?! Everything in me screams, “Uproot the weeds, protect the wheat!” But Jesus leaves both to grow side by side. He doesn’t eliminate the threats we face as we grow in truth. Instead, He leaves us steward that responsibility. He plants His Word in our hearts, knowing it is strong enough to grow and produce what it is intended to.

But He also gives us the ability to choose what we will embrace and allow to contend for the space in our hearts and lives. At the end of time, the truth will be revealed. If we have allowed deception and distraction to choke out the truth He planted, we will have our portion with the sons of the wicked one – with the weeds, because that’s what we chose to give place to. This is no small warning to be ignored or minimized. The Scriptures contain much that is encouraging and nourishing, and they also contain much that is meant to keep us from falling into error and straying. How I hope and pray we will learn to love and treasure both.

God’s intention is not for us to be deceived and led astray! But it is something He allows us choice and responsibility in. He gives truth freely, and when we feast on it and treasure it and cultivate our hearts and lives around ensuring and environment it can thrive it, we are guaranteed to see its fulfillment. But Scripture is clear that, in the last days, the devil will come to deceive and lead, astray, if possible, even those whom God has chosen and called (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+24%3A24&version=ESV).

In our times, discerning truth from falsehood will be tricky, because the weeds are going to look a whole lot like the flowers. The professing Christians are going to look and sound a whole lot like the actual Christians, and will be sent and planted with the purpose of intentionally deceiving and leading astray true believers. Often, the professing Christians don’t even know they are deceived and have been sent to sow what chokes out truth. Not many start out with the intention of leading people away from God. Instead, they begin well, wanting what God has promised, but make room for pretty weeds at their table, and soon find themselves tangled up in the deceptions their hearts have embraced. When those weeds are left alone, these lives are then used to entangle other believers.

I’d like to deny the likelihood or possibility of this, but I can think of several people who started with a good foundation, but then began to entertain the deceptions that looked a lot like flowers. Now those people, who still profess to believe in God, present a very compromised picture and spout very compromised “truths” before others, offering a very tainted influence for those who might look up to or admire them. I have personally witnessed how the weeds in those lives have worked their way into the roots of other hearts, causing a great struggle against the truth, and in some cases, even winning them over to the deception that truth comes in many forms and is relative to each person’s values and beliefs. I have seen the seed of God’s Word choked out, and it is a heartbreaking reality I want to avoid in my life.

People who host weeds, and eventually become the tares of the enemy, will speak words that are believable, but many of those words will be hijacked and given new definitions that don’t match up with God’s. Some of these people will hold great power, performing the coveted signs and wonders that people are drawn to in desperation. They will seem to say everything we’ve been longing to hear, but the aim of their message – whether conscious or not, will be to uproot us from the foundation of real truth and faith in God alone.

Beloved, how are we to ensure that we don’t fall prey to such a great deception, which – the Bible says – will capture many (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+24%3A10-13&version=ESV)?

The answer is surprisingly simple: if we abide in His Word, we will know the Truth, and the Truth will set us free (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+8%3A31-32&version=ESV). If we tend to our hearts, and the seed of God’s Word implanted there, protecting and cultivating the space for truth alone to dwell and thrive, God’s Word will thrive and bear its intended fruit in our lives. If we neglect God’s Word, the soil of our hearts will become vulnerable to weeds of deception.

Whatever our hearts host, we become. The heart that hosts and cultivates the seed of truth, becomes the seed of a life sown for the Kingdom. The heart that hosts and gives room to the weeds of deception and distraction becomes the seed of a life sown against the Kingdom of God. Although God intends for us to be His seed in the Earth, we cannot fulfill that destiny, and we cannot know that reality, if we are embracing and entertaining the seeds of wickedness (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7%3A15-20&version=NLT). Ultimately, the soil we give to weeds will wreak havoc on our lives and on God’s plans for us. At the very least, we will invite unnecessary struggle and, at worst, position ourselves to be led astray.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, God has destined us to know Him, to thrive in Him, and ultimately to bear His fruit in the world around us. Is your life free and clear of the weeds of deceptions and lusts that lure you into their distractions? Is your heart intent on cultivating a space for truth to grow and produce its fruit, so that you can stand in the midst of the weeds and wolves of this world, and not fear being carried away in their delusions?

This begins and ends with the Secret Place. We must dwell and abide in His Word. And we must do so to know Him more, to have intimate relationship with Him. He alone is able to keep us from the deceptive influences designed to entice us into compromise.

Do you feast on Scripture, Beloved? I heard a song the other day that asked a question I think we should all ask ourselves regularly: “Do I know the news more than I know You? Am I more familiar with the events on social media than I am with Your heart?” Unfortunately, we tend to treat Scripture as something we’ve heard and know and can now leave on the shelf, firmly fixed in its place. And meanwhile, the weeds begin to decorate our tables.

We must be in the Word daily, because it’s alive! We must host the Word of God at our tables, and give it display in all of our lives. God is faithful, and desires to preserve us even amid the coming delusion. Dear One, get serious about cultivating the garden of your heart, so that your life in this world can remain strong and see the purposes of God. We can’t afford to host anymore weeds. The world can’t afford for us to embrace anything less than the whole truth.

May we become as the Bereans, who not only heard the message of truth, but then searched the Scriptures for themselves, to be sure what they heard was the absolute truth. The only way we will be able to discern truth from lies in our day is by living in the Scriptures, and allowing the Holy Spirit to deepen our relationship with Jesus through it. In this way, the Bereans grew and prospered in their faith, and so will we! (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=acts+17%3A11&version=TLB)

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}


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