The Bible has a lot to say about gardens. There is the Garden of Eden in Genesis. There is the return to the garden in Revelation. Jesus talks frequently about agriculture, planting and seeds. These subjects connect with me because I grew up helping my father in his garden. And these subjects connect with my spirit because God is all into planting, growing and harvest.
In Matthew 13:24-30 we have the familiar story about a garden in which there are weeds. The weeds are called tares and are a plant called bearded darnel. The plant resembles wheat when it is young. In the parable we are told not to pull this weed or we might just pull out the wheat too. This is probably good advice for the farmer, but how should we apply this parable?
I think the parable is very applicable to the overall Biblical theme of gardens. Here, in being told to refrain from pulling the weeds, I wonder if this is a parable about living life in God's Kingdom and in the Church? All of us have people that challenge us. Many might see these people as toxic and might be quick to leave relationship with them. We also might be tempted to devise actions to get these people to act according to our desired behaviors. Matthew says, leave them in the garden and tolerate them. Because God will rightly sort them out when His Kingdom comes in the fullest.
I have three basic 'garden' rules that I think are good and Biblical. The first is Genesis 2 ans 3 ... 'Adam ... care for the garden and keep out the snakes.' Snakes are bad, even in the Garden of Eden. Keep them out and, if possible, shoot the sneaky things!
The second rule is (based on Matthew 13) 'don't pull the tares.' Often in relationships time needs to heal wounds. Silence needs to invite non-forced conversation. Patience needs to win out over my desire to make myself comfortable with one of those people I view as a 'weed.' Restraint needs to allow me to grow and learn from this situation. These are difficult things but I believe God's Word is full of wisdom here!
The third rule, and this one is hard, is 'don't plant weeds.' When I decide to take over a situation, relationship and the behavior of another person, I am choosing to plant weeds that weren't there before. I am very good at this when I place that 'control' hat on my head and appoint myself to an undeserved position of authority over the life of another person. I can barely control me, and I have plenty of work doing just that. Any other person is beyond my pay grade ... for only God can change people in a transformational way.
So ... kill the snakes, don't pull the weeds and don't plant new weeds. Sounds simple, but it isn't! Maybe we can all work together and make this garden called the Church a God-filled place! Randy