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. (Matthew 13:24-25)

In Jesus’ parable of seeds and weeds, a farmer planted wheat seeds. But at night, his enemy secretly went to his field and scattered weed seeds in his attempt to destroy the farmer’s harvest. Jesus later explained that His followers (the wheat) live together with the unbelieving world (the weeds). They both share the same environment, under the same circumstances, until Jesus returns to separate them. The weeds will be burned up—symbolic of the eternal lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). The wheat will be gathered into the granary—symbolic of heaven.

The story offers sobering truth regarding the eternal destination for genuine Christ’s followers and for those who refuse or reject Jesus Christ. But just below the surface of the story lies several hidden truths we often overlook. Two are dangerous and demand a strong defense. One is a cause for us to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). We are wise to recognize their importance and develop strategies for them.

Spiritual Apathy is Dangerous

It’s easy to understand the field workers were tired. After working all day in the hot sun, they deserved a meal and an early bedtime. Tomorrow would be another day. However, while they slept, evil sought an opportunity to undermine their efforts. If they had thought this were possible, they would have posted guards while sleeping in shifts. But the lurking evil was far from their fatigued minds.

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). What we value we prioritize. Unfortunately, maintaining a healthy, consistent spiritual life doesn’t come easy. Our carnal, sinful nature rebels against it constantly. Spiritual apathy is usually the most effective weapon against a vibrant spiritual life.

Nestled in between occasional spiritual mountaintop experiences, we live in those long dry valleys of lethargy and indifference. Oh, when we face adversity or when some unique challenge of life upsets us, we run to God, read His Word and pray, treating God like a genie to fix whatever is broken. But when life is going reasonably well, we gradually get lazy, distracted by the busyness of life, and try to squeeze in some hurried moments for God. We drowsily mumble a few words of gratitude, read a three-minute feel-good devotional, and rush headlong into life as we know it. “While men slept …”

Overlooking our Aggressive Enemy

In our spiritual apathy, we are prime targets for our enemy. Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). The apostle Peter warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). This enemy hates God and anything remotely associated with Him. All throughout Scripture we are warned. “Watch and pray!” “Be sober!” Pay attention!” Be vigilant!”

Always lurking in the shadows is the enemy, Satan. He is the father of deception, the accuser, the divider of relationships, the originator of pride. He is not our friend or ally, nor is he lazy in his attempts to defraud, deceive, and destroy. In his attacks, he never calls, “Time out!” nor does he graciously allow us to regroup or regain our strength when we’ve had a bad day.

He bullies the weak, manipulates the vulnerable, preys on the hurting, and mocks the repentant. Yet, we tend to excuse his attacks, concentrating on the physical realm instead of looking with spiritual eyes. We criticize others when they fall into sin. We ignore our hurting brothers. We refuse to actively join in the fight against our enemy—fearing the ramifications we may experience from a world that is hostile to anyone who genuinely follows God. “His enemy came …”

Fruit Reveals the Root

A theme in God’s Word, as well as the inevitable law of harvest, is that, “A tree is recognized by its fruit.” Galatians 6:7 confirms, “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Christ followers are called to live as lights in a decaying, dark world (Matthew 5:16). Light repels darkness, it does not mirror it. Wheat and weeds may live in the same environment. But they are identifiably separate by their fruit. Wheat bears different fruit than weeds.

Followers of Jesus are to be visibly separate from the world. To not look, smell, dress, act, or live like the world. There is to be no “fellowship” or keeping company with the sinful world (Ephesians 5:11). Yes, we are to love unbelievers and invite them to Christ. But by imitating them, by living the same lifestyles, fearing the same earthly challenges, and complaining about the same adversity, we offer them no compelling reason to listen to our salvation message in Christ. By compromising our faith and values in order to fit in, we hinder lost and dying souls from receiving the very freedom that set us free.

God will harvest His field one day soon, separating the wheat from the weeds. That will be a time of judgment for unbelievers and rewards for faithful Christ followers. The Great White Throne will condemn the lost to eternal damnation (Revelation 20:11-15). The Judgment Seat of Christ will reward believers for eternal glory (2 Corinthians 5:10). Let’s warn and win the lost. And let’s faithfully follow and serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. “Let them both grow together until the harvest …”

Personal Prayer

“Father, please forgive my spiritual apathy. Awaken me with the urgency of Your imminent return. Forgive me for overlooking my spiritual enemy. Arouse in me the urge to fight his wickedness with Your righteousness. Forgive me for eroding the Christian faith by my haphazard lifestyle. Energize my faithfulness to You and my responsibility to warn the lost. Stir up in me Your holiness that I may blaze anew within a lost, hurting, and dying world. Amen.”

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