Thorns and Weeds
Something hit me earlier this week as I was thinking about some things that have happened in our church, and I had also watched an Instagram live video recently that got me thinking. On Sunday, Pastor Chad preached about the thorny soil in Matthew 13:7 and 22. We have to think about our own soil and how we need to recognize the weeds and be on constant guard to remove them, but have we ever stopped to think about the fact that we may be the thorns or weeds in someone else’s life? Those of us who have been going to church for a very long time have to be very, very careful that we do not say or do things that might suffocate the growing seeds in a new Christ-follower’s life. Words have been said to different people in our congregation that make my blood boil. The words were, perhaps, said innocently, but the damage they have done breaks my heart. First, we have to recognize that most of the time we do not have the right to speak about things in someone else’s life. If we don’t have a relationship with the person, we have not “earned the right to be heard.” Then, only if we have earned that right, we must--absolutely MUST--pray and seek other people’s wisdom before we confront anyone about something that might annoy us or concern us. Is our concern a Biblical issue or a personal dislike? A casual comment about someone’s actions or clothing can have disastrous consequences. Even if you “meant well,” what if something you have said keeps someone from ever stepping foot in a church again? What if you have hurt someone’s feelings so badly they don’t want to hear about Jesus any more because they think, “If Jesus is like that, I don’t want to have anything to do with Him”? Does that horrify you? I sure hope so.
If we are truly wanting to follow Christ and do His will, we have to recognize the damage that has been done in the past by people claiming to be Christians. Maybe we are innocent, but as soon as we say we are Christians, people assume certain things about us. Hopefully they are incorrect about us personally, but we have a lot of work to do to show them otherwise. We have to realize that people still bring up the Crusades like that is something we have done personally. In Matthew 18:6, Jesus speaks very harshly against those who cause others to stumble. In everything we do, we must make sure we are not the thorns or the weeds in someone else’s life.
In our own lives, we have to identify the weeds before we can remove them. This means examining our lives very closely. Pulling weeds is something to be done on our knees. When I was younger, I was clearing a part of our backyard, trying to be helpful. I did not realize that one of the “weeds” I pulled up was actually a Japanese maple sapling. It was definitely not a weed, and my mother was not pleased. We need to make sure we are not pulling up things that may be beneficial. It may be prickly like a thorn, but it might be a blackberry or raspberry bush and produce wonderful fruit in our lives. We can’t just yank up anything that makes us a little uncomfortable.
We also need to make sure we are not leaving weeds we think are pretty. If we are getting distracted by worldly practices, we are slowly choking the plants in our lives that will produce good fruit. Pastor Chad asked, “What does your calendar say you love?” Where do we spend most of our time and devotion? Are we furthering God’s Kingdom or our own desires? How hard is it for us to do a prayerful inventory of our lives? How often do we ask ourselves why we are doing the things we keep doing? These can be difficult questions, but ones we must continually ask ourselves if we want to be following Jesus. Do you?