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.” ‘ ” Matthew 13:24-30 (NKJV)
Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 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 13:36-43 (NKJV)
As you look at this story we see that there were two very different kinds of seeds sown, and there were two very different types of sowers.
Wheat. Just as the landowner sowed the good seed of wheat into his field, Jesus has sown righteousness into the lives of believers all over the world. Whatever good seed there is in the world, it all comes from the hand of Christ, and is of His sowing. When the Gospel is preached, when grace is received, when souls are saved and lives are changed this is all the good seed, and Jesus is responsible for it all. His sowing of the good seed started with the beginning of His earthly ministry and continues now in the ministry of the Gospel.
Tares. After the land-owner sowed wheat in his field an enemy came at night and sowed tares in that same field. In the eastern culture of Jesus day, this type of malice was well known. Just as the landowner’s enemy sowed tares among the wheat, Satan seeks to intermingle his people with the people of God. Though it may be hard to take, the Bible shows us here, and in other places, that there are only two kingdoms. There is the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness and all of us belong to one kingdom or the other. There is no other choice, and there is no in-between. To put it in the words of this parable, we are wheat or a tare. How can we tell the difference? It’s the fruit that tells the tale.
After the seed has been sown it begins the natural growing process. But as the seeds start to grow the workers start to notice something funny. They realized that someone had sown tares among the wheat. It is interesting to note that as the plants grew they did not notice the tares until both plants brought forth their fruit. Until this point they were pretty much identical in their appearance. It was their fruit, not their appearance that distinguished one from the other. The word for tare most likely refers to a weed called bearded darnel. This plant looked nearly identical to wheat, but it wasn’t wheat. The fruit of the wheat can of course be used for many things. However the fruit of the darnel if eaten, could cause violent nausea, sickness, convulsions, and frequently resulted in death.
In the field of the world you cannot just look at someone and tell if they are saved or not. God doesn’t make Christians in a cookie cutter mold. Therefore Christians come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and manners of dress. Someone who does not know Jesus can dress, talk, live, and look “Christian”. But looking like a Christian doesn’t make someone a Christian. It is the fruit that tells the tale. The way to tell the wheat from the tare, or those who are a part of the Kingdom of God from those who are a part of the kingdom of darkness is by looking at the fruit. Those who are a part of the kingdom of darkness are the ones Jesus says offend and practice lawlessness.
Probably the best way to understand what Jesus means by lawlessness is to understand this as rejecting His commands. The lawless live in ways that are contrary to Scripture. They live as though the commands of Scripture don’t apply to them. It’s not necessarily that they say this, but that they live it. Probably the best place to see the contrast between those who live lawless lives and those who follow Christ is found in Galatians.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 (NKJV)
In these verses the Bible tells us the fruit that is produced in our lives if we are controlled by our sinful nature. This refers to those whose lifestyle habitually displays the following characteristics. These are the kinds of activities the lawless people Jesus referred to take part in. Paul says basically the same thing in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. In both passages the Bible says that those whose lifestyles are characterized by the sins listed are still controlled by their sinful human nature and have no part in the Kingdom of God. To put it in the context of this parable, they are tares.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:22-24 (NKJV)
Paul now shows us what is produced in our lives when the Holy Spirit controls us. When our sinful nature controls us it produces vices, but when the Holy Spirit controls us He produces virtues. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
This is merely a small sampling of what the Bible says about believers. But even from this, it is obvious that there is a huge difference between the two fruits produced. Here is the question that we all must answer in our lives. Which fruit am I producing?
The person who is separated from God cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit. Just as it’s impossible for a tare to produce wheat, it is impossible for a non-Christian to produce Spiritual fruit. Why? Because even though the tare looks like wheat, it isn’t wheat. Its physical make up prevents it from bearing the kind of fruit needed by the landowner. In the same way those who are separated from God do not have the right Spiritual make up to produce Spiritual fruit.
“Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:17-20 (NKJV)
Since the fruit tells the tale, what tale is the fruit of your life telling?