Saturday, March 7, 2009

#31 Weeds and Corn

1 Corinthians 8:1 NASB "...we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge
makes arrogant, but love edifies."

When I was growing up I took every opportunity I could to go to my
grandparents. As I have shared before, my granddad owned and operated a
junkyard so there was always things to get into. Some of them good and some
of them...well, not so good. Enough said for now J. Apart from running a
salvage yard, my grandparents always had a garden to raise their own
vegetables. Both of them had grown up during the Great Depression era so
they fully understood the value of knowing how to provide food for yourself.
When I was a boy I was not very inclined to want to work in the garden. I
would much rather be off riding my bicycle or running through the woods or
who knows what else, but my granddad was intent on seeing to it that I knew
how to garden. He would take me out there in the blazing North Carolina
heat where I could stand and watch his small, red-belly Ford tractor dig up
the hardened earth. I was always so impressed with how straight he could
plow the rows after he tilled the earth. I never realized how good pawpaw
was at plowing until I watched my uncle do it one day. His lines looked
more akin to contemporary art than rows for a garden. Even though I was not
really into the whole gardening thing I was always fascinated with watching
everything sprout. It still amazes me that God placed the ability for a
plant to grow out of such a small thing as a seed. The only bad part apart
about the seeds coming up was that the weeds seemed to be in a race with the
seeds to occupy the same space. So the horrid job of weeding the garden
then provided me job security that I wished had not existed.

Hoeing weeds was not something at which I found immediate success. In fact,
my first time nearly became my last. I can recall it was so hot that the
dirt seemed to be melting, and my pawpaw thought it a great time to go out
and weed the garden. He began to talk and tell me what he wanted me to do,
but my mind was thinking of nothing but the small creek that was just a five
minute walk from the house. So while the instructions for weeding the
garden were given out I was not engaged at all. He set me at the corn row
and he went on the other side to the beans. At this stage in my life I was
not very skilled at distinguishing between corn and weeds. In fact, I made
no distinction in the least as I hacked my way across the row of corn.
Somehow I had it in my head that I was to clear the ground of anything
green. Fortunately for my pawpaw he came to check on my progress and to his
horror I had cleared the row of all plant life for about 20-25 feet. His
loud questioning brought my hoeing to a stop as he asked me why I was hoeing
up the corn too. I explained that I thought I was doing what he asked me.
Of course I did not want to admit that I was not paying attention to the
instructions when we set out, not that I needed to explain that fact at that
point. My failure to make a distinction between weeds and corn encouraged
my pawpaw to then walk me through the garden to show me the difference
between the wanted and unwanted vegetation. Fortunately for the whole
family, I learned the difference and we were able to enjoy the fruits of our
labors that summer and fall.

I liken this scenario to the way Christians interact with one another in the
church. Sometimes it is hard for us to recognize the difference between
those in the church family that are solid, mature Christians and those that
may be weaker in their faith. Sure there are some outward indicators but if
we do not take the time to look for them we may not recognize that our
fellow sojourners on this planet may have struggles for which they need our
patience, love, compassion, and acceptance. When we fail to see this we may
say or do things that are very hurtful. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 8
where Paul discusses this very thing as it relates to the eating of meat
that was offered to idols. You see, in those days Pagan worshippers offered
daily sacrifices to their false gods and idols. They used only a portion of
the meat in the actual sacrifice and the remainder of the meat would then be
sold in the market or served in the idol's temple. Paul makes the argument
that many know that there is no such thing as an idol in the sense that the
so-called gods they represent do not exist. Therefore, it does not matter
if the meat was offered to one of these manmade objects or not. He goes on
to say however, that some among them still regarded the idols as being real
because they are weaker in their faith Paul says. One could even say they
were fresher in their experience in some aspects and they still required
growth in that area. The problem comes in when both groups attempt to live
and worship together. The more mature in their faith may unknowingly cause
the weaker to fall because of their maturity. But by causing the weaker
ones to fall we sin not only against them, but also against Christ ( 1 Cor
8:12). In essence, when we walk through our Christian existence and take no
regard for others around us we end up hoeing up the weeds with the corn
because we destroy those in our path. Sure it may happen innocently enough,
but that does not negate that it happens. And if we do something in our
walk with total disregard to those around us are we truly following the way
of Christ? I would have to say that to follow Christ is to be mindful of
those around us and to mingle with them with the intent of bringing good to
all we meet. Friends, as you spend time with one another in God's family
be mindful that we all have similar and different struggles. Be careful
that what you do does not negatively influence or cause to stumble one among
you that may have a weaker faith. Be one who edifies the body of Christ.
Surely the world is full of those who seek to destroy it.

Dear Father God,
It is my prayer this morning that You would give us eyes to see and ears to
hear that we may know how to interact with one another in Your family.
Lord, we know that we are all at different levels of spiritual growth and it
is essential to recognize and appreciate this within the body of Christ.
May it never be said of any of us that we took no regard for those around us
and simply lived how we choose to do. But may we live our lives with the
intent of serving others and ultimately serving You. Lord, please give us
the wisdom to know how to not needlessly offend others, but if we do cause
another to stumble please give us the courage to go and make things right
with them. Lord, we realize that life is too short to be at odds with one
another and we need Your eyes to recognize how we should act. Please make
straight our paths as we seek to acknowledge You in all our ways. In Jesus'
name we pray, Amen.

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