I grew up on an Iowa farm, and that experience gave me a real understanding of the cycle of planting, cultivating, and harvesting. While I understood the process in terms of agriculture, somehow I kind of missed the spiritual reality that Jesus taught through His seed and harvest metaphors. During the process of planting and harvesting a crop, there is actually more work for the farmer associated with the harvest than with the seed.
Despite this, I somehow associated my walk with Christ as sowing seeds and subconsciously allocated the job of harvest to God. It is true that God brings the harvest. I am no more responsible for causing the harvest on my actions than the farmer is for causing his seeds to sprout. However the farmer’s work has just begun when he plants the seed. God brings the harvest but He does not gather the harvest. That is the job of the farmer.
In the fall in Iowa, the harvest is a busy time. Farmers move through their fields with massive combines, gathering the grain they planted many months prior. You can’t drive through the countryside during autumn without seeing visual confirmation of the harvest. There is much work that goes on immediately prior to putting the machines into the field that many would not see or be aware of. A huge part of harvest is preparation.
Jesus used agricultural parables in Matthew 13 where Matthew recorded the parable of the sower and the parable of the wheat and tares. Verse 19 informs us the wheat seed sown represents God’s word. The wheat is the fruit we bear from His word. The parable of wheat and tares begins in verse 24 where we discover that God’s kingdom is like a man who sowed good wheat seeds into his field. This is us sowing God’s word into our hearts and lives. Unfortunately something happened amid the wheat seed (God’s word). If wheat represents the truth of God’s word, then the tares represent that which is not truth, deception.
Verse 25 tells us God’s enemy came to sow deception. It even warns us it happened “while men slept”. The appearance of truth and deception mixed together caused concern among the field hands, and rightly so. The reaction of the master in verse 30 is interesting. He instructs them to let both grow together for now, until harvest time. Once harvest time comes, it is no longer OK to allow the deception to remain. Doing so would compromise the harvest.
The sowing of tares is done “while men slept”. It is subtle. Outright and obvious lies are rejected on the spot. Deception comes in the whispered question that has been asked since the Garden of Eden, “Did God really say?” God’s enemy becomes our enemy and His goal is to steal, kill, or destroy God’s work in us. It is time to wake up, recognize this tactic and stop allowing tares to be sown in your heart.
We all have various lies that have taken root, small deceptions contrary to what God says about us. Maybe God’s enemy has been whispering “you can’t” into your ear but God says “you can.” Perhaps fear has taken root in place of faith. Whatever the tares may be in your heart, now is the time for harvest. It is time for the tares to be uprooted so they don’t interfere with gathering of the wheat. Verse 30 is very specific about how this is to play out. “First gather together the tares and bind them into bundles to burn them.” So how do you recognize the tares in year heart?
When bank tellers are trained, they are not shown every possible type of counterfeit bill. Rather they become so comfortable with the characteristics of the real bills they will know a counterfeit by what it is not. This is the only way to spot the tares in your heart. Become so familiar and comfortable with the wheat (God’s word) that you will know the tares (deception) by what they are not.
Once you identify the tares, be relentless. Uproot tares, do not tolerate them for they will ruin your harvest. The time for letting wheat and tares co-exist has past. It is now harvest time. Find your tares, uproot them, bind them, and burn them. Only once this is done can you see the conclusion of verse 30 and gather the fruit of God’s word into your barn. Time is short, the field is white unto harvest.