“A weed is just a plant in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Whoever wrote that didn’t have a garden. After spending way too much of my day wrestling with crabgrass, dandelions and other assorted non-cultivars today, I almost titled this post “Weeds are Sins.” That may seem extreme, but after several hours of weeding I might be able to make a case for it.
At the very least, we can say weeds are connected to sin - as the Book of Genesis clearly shows. When Adam failed his first job as a gardener and ate from the wrong plant in the Garden of Eden, he was told clearly: “Cursed is the ground because of you…It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (Genesis 3:17-18).
Since then, weeds have been with us and we humans have found little good to say about them. Do you remember what the final words of Job were as he ended his defense as recorded in the Book of Job? He expressed his frustration and misery with the most discouraging words he could think of (and he thought of quite a few): “… let thorns grow instead of wheat, and foul weeds instead of barley” (Job 31:39-40). Then there is Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds found in Matthew 13, of course. It was a parable that he doubtless knew would make a point in a hand-powered farm-to-fork agrarian society.
But why do I think weeds are like sin? Well, back to my garden. If your yard is anything like mine, you know weeding takes a lot of time. I frequently put down weed killer (don’t worry, I buy the earth-friendly kind), but the weeds still show up. They not only show up, but they seem to always find the hardest places to dig them out of. And if I don’t dig them out, they not only thrive, they multiply (ever wonder why weeds seem to produce so many more offspring than the plants you want?), and as they multiply they spread – even (and I must say this quietly) into my neighbor’s yard.
The parallels with sin are all too obvious. Even with frequent use of God’s sin-weed killer, the Bible, sins still show up – often in the most unexpected areas of life. And you know what happens if we don’t dig them out as soon as we become aware of them. Neither the “I’ll get the weeds next week” or the “I’ll quit this sin soon” plans ever seem to work out very well.
What’s the answer? There doesn’t seem to be an easy one in both cases. Pulling out weeds and tearing out sins are both exhausting work. They both seem to be never ending jobs. But you know what? When I see how much better things really are with the latest outgrowths of crabgrass, envy, dandelions, gossip, and other weeds and sins gone, I realize it really is worth the constant effort.
That way, we can get back to the job of growing the good plants – the faith and good works that God wants to see in our lives – as Isaiah says: “For as the earth brings forth her bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth...” (Isaiah 61:11).
After all, that’s what the gardens, and people, of God are supposed to be like: “Like palm groves that stretch afar, like gardens beside a river, like aloes that the Lord has planted, like cedar trees beside the waters” (Numbers 24:6) - and as you see, there is no mention of weeds.