Christians and Judgment: Weeds Among the Coleus

Mixed Coleux

What I hope my mixed coleus seed will grow into!

When God says that the weeds should be allowed to grow along with the good wheat until the end of times, it seems a little odd. (Matthew 13)

Shouldn’t we protect the wheat from the weeds?

Shouldn’t we make room for the wheat to grow by getting the weeds out of the way?

‘Don’t judge the weeds!’

But God says they should be left to grow together, until God separates them, and throws the weeds to be burned.

God gives one good reason why: when you pull up the weeds, you  might pull up the wheat, too (Matt. 13:29). It is not possible for any believer to be entirely separated from those who choose evil in this world. If the weeds were all pulled out today, how devastated might we be at the knowledge that loved ones who have made bad choices are entirely lost — that our hope for them is gone? Would we find ourselves “uprooted” by our loss?

‘You’re not smart enough to judge the weeds!’

As I look at my own little patio garden, I can see another reason, too. In this time of economic constraint, I’ve planted my garden from seed for the first time in many years. But my pots and potting soil are not new. So the soil is full of tree-blown and bird-dropped seeds, as well as the seeds I’ve planted.

It takes patience, of course, to begin to see any plants at all. More than that, it takes discernment to know which of the leaves that appear are from seeds I planted. After leaves started popping up I had to wait several weeks, until a maroon streak began to show along the center of some of the tiny round leaves, to know for sure which were coleus and which were chickweed. I’m still not certain which of the narrow leaves pushing up are basil, which are dahlias, and which are pin oak.

God knows, of course. But were God to leave the weeding to the likes of me at this time, the garden could be decimated. For the time being, I need to leave the weeds among the coleus.

What about discerning (and judging) ‘weed people’?

When we’re speaking about people, it takes much, much longer to recognize who will grow as wheat. A thief who makes the right choice while being executed (Luke 23: 40-43) might not show a great harvest that we can see, but spiritual harvests are remarkably difficult to measure.

Who knows but that he made his choice at that moment for such a one as you or me? If a man sentenced to death was not a weed at the moment of his execution, how would you and I ever be certain that we are rightly judging others as outside God’s Kingdom?

Have you been on the receiving end of Christian judgment? The giving end? Did it turn out well or not?

About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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2 Responses to Christians and Judgment: Weeds Among the Coleus

  1. Heidi Smid says:

    Oh Carlene, how deeply this one speaks to me! I’ve been on BOTH ends of this, and very recently. God is pretty determined, evidently, to humble me: by exposing the ways I have judged/am judging in ways that belong only to Him, and also by having others judge me in hurtful/unfair ways. And yet, I think of Jesus judged so wrongly by those He MADE, those He was dying for, and the humility He showed when He had no wrong in him. My biggest stumbling block for now in this area seems to be: judging those “judgmental people” who think all believers should think the same as they do, as they judge their brothers and sisters as somehow “less spiritual” or possibly unsaved. *sigh* God’s work is good, and painful at the same time.

    • I don’t think any of us can write about judgment who haven’t done and received it! I asked James just a couple weeks ago if he thought there might be something wrong with my faith since people who are not Christians love to talk about Jesus with me but people who are Christians often wonder if I know God at all. He said no, and I do find him generally trustworthy!

      For me, I hope I offer honest questions, not judgment; but of course the line is very fine. So I am willing to ask a parent who is already questioning the high cost of their teens’ summer mission trips whether the kids might learn to serve equally well those in our own city. I’m sheerly befuddled when a family builds a larger home so children won’t have to share bathrooms with houseguests. But I’m sure others are equally befuddled by our unwillingness to have James’ brother live here. And we consider them simply unknowledgeable about the real-life experience of sharing living space with a person who has such an illness.

      It’s not easy being a family of billions who live in so many places under so many circumstances who are called to love in deed as well as word because we all have the same Father and the same inheritance (which is each other — Eph 1 — and God is excited to have us!). If I could understand all of this, I would be God. I can’t, which proves at least one thing about me. God is smarter.

      Thanks for writing, Heidi.

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