that’s not your job

Posted in: theological rants- Mar 30, 2014 No Comments

(and it’s not anyone else’s either)

In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus tells what is commonly referred to as the parable of the wheat and the tares:

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

Then in verses 37-43, when He is alone with His disciples, Jesus “decodes” the parable at their request:

He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Matthew Henry notes that it is very difficult to distinguish between the wheat and the tares, and inadvisable to attempt to do so before harvest (emphasis mine):

As the good seed, so the tares, lie a great while under the clods, and at first springing up, it is hard to distinguish them; but when … fruit is to be brought forth [i.e. the harvest; i.e. the end of the age] … : then you may say, This is wheat, and that is tares.

The servants were ready to go out in the field immediately and rip out the tares. The owner’s response was not one of procrastination. He did not casually tell his servants, “Nah, I appreciate the thought, but we’ll just catch it on the flip side. You guys have been working hard. Go relax with some Netflix.”

No, his response was firm: “Don’t do that. You are not equipped to properly and consistently distinguish between wheat and tares. If you try to take out the tares now, you will quite possibly do irreparable harm to the wheat as well.”

In response to claims that the Strange Fire conference was causing divisions in the church, John MacArthur replied:

Setting aside the fact that (as a friend observed) “identify[ing] the body” sounds like something that goes on in a morgue, note what MacArthur is doing here. He is not merely trying to call out and correct error in the church. Rather — by his own admission — he’s in that field, ripping out tares left and right, when Jesus explicitly told us not to do this.

Or as Henry put it (emphases mine):

Note, The over-hasty and inconsiderate zeal of Christ’s servants, before they have consulted with their Master, is sometimes ready, with the hazard of the church, to root out all that they presume to be tares

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