I have for many years now led a Bible study on Monday nights. We have studied a variety of topics, as well as working through the entire Bible book by book. We are a very inquisitive bunch, which I love. I personally think I am a perennial 3 year old, always asking “why.” And over the years I have added the additional questions: what, who, where, when, and how. I am sure some find me rather annoying with all my questions, but it is in questioning that we gain understanding. So I would encourage all of you to ask questions, which brings me to weeds in the wheat!
You see…we are currently studying all the New Testament letters and right now we are working our way through Hebrews, although Hebrews is technically a sermon and not a letter. It was in preparing for one of the lessons that I ran across Hebrews 6:7 – 8, that says:
“Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”
It always amazes me how verses I have read before suddenly leap off the page making me sit up and take notice of what they are saying! One of the first things we need to remember when looking at the Bible is that no verse is in a vacuum but is part of the entire Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation. And the verses surrounding a passage can help illuminate what a particular passage is saying. So these two short verses are what the preacher of Hebrews is using to illustrate his point made in the previous few verses…and the point??? We can lose our salvation. We are not once saved always saved. We can turn our backs on God. Thomas Long, (1997) in his commentary on Hebrews said this:
“It is far more tragic, however, when the faith is rejected by those who do know its depths…when such as these turn their backs on the faith, it is a grievous and seemingly irreparable tragedy. They are not walking out on what they do not understand, but from what they do understand. They fall away not because they have never tasted the mercy and love of God, but in spite of the fact that they have.”*
I believe (personal opinion here) for those who have lost or feel they are losing their faith…chances are they have allowed weeds to grow in their wheat. Or as the preacher of Hebrews described: they are land that produces thorns and thistles. They no longer drink in the rain. What struck me as this passage jumped off the page demanding my attention; is that we all do this. We all allow weeds to grow in our wheat. Sometimes we even seek out weeds to plant! Cultivating specific varieties of weeds like gossip, anger, or drama as well as many others and before long they have attained a foothold in our lives that will need a great deal of time and attention to eradicate. If we allow too many weeds to attain a foothold, we are in danger of losing our faith based on the choices we have been making. Those choices are ones that allow us to grow “weeds” in the first place. And of course those weeds are all the sins we commit and do nothing to stop. We choose to not place boundaries in our lives that keep temptation at bay. And we all have temptations. The first thing we can do in living a more mature faith filled life is to honestly acknowledge those things that tempt us, be able to recognize them, and set boundaries to keep them at bay. It is also very helpful to have a trusted friend who will hold you accountable to the boundaries you set.
Here is the thing: when sin grabs hold of us, if we are not in the grip of God’s grace, we, who are so prone to sin will continue to gravitate toward sin until our sins consume us. Our wheat field will be so full of weeds it is no longer of any value. Fortunately, God is gracious and merciful and does not want anyone to be apart from God. We are all valuable to God. We are all loved by God. We are all precious to God. So…the choice to be in the warm embrace of God’s grace and mercy or to walk away is always ours to make. God made God’s choice about all of us when he sent Jesus into this world. Make no mistake…God truly does love each one of us no matter how far we have strayed or what sins we have committed.
So the question we should ask ourselves is: Are we filling our lives with things that are productive and bring us to a closer relationship to our Creator God? Or…do we fill our lives with things that draw us further and further away choosing to plant weeds in our wheat fields?
*Long, Thomas (1997). Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching Hebrews. Louisville, KY:John Knox Press. (p. 74)