A few days ago I was pulling weeds in my neglected backyard garden, with a mind to grow wildflowers on this small parcel of land. I wanted to be sure to extract all of the weeds that I could, especially the oversized ones, and the ones with extensive root systems. The land must be as clear and ready as possible for the future bed of beautiful wildflowers to thrive!
As I was down in the dirt, slowly uprooting small and big plants alike, I had a simple revelation – I could not tell if certain small plants were weeds, or the beginnings of flowers planted by previous owners. Many of the tiny plants looked so similar, I (a novice gardener), could not tell the difference.
My mind immediately jumped to the illustration of the Church as being a mixed bunch of wheat and tares. So many people are “in” the Church, but, unless one has a trained eye (or a gift of spiritual discernment from God), in many cases one cannot tell the difference between a flower and a weed. Until we see the flowers (the fruit) of a plant, it is quite difficult to know whether we should have left it in the ground or uprooted it early. The same with those in the Church – you will know them by their fruit – what they do, who they become.
Those who have been gardening for years, or who have been taught by a long-time gardeners no doubt know much more about telling the difference between weeds and desirable plants. Some can probably take one look at a plant and know – “pull it” or “leave it”. But I, the novice, had quite the dilemma – do I pull plants I am unsure about, just in case they turn out to be weeds that try to take over the garden? Or do I leave them, to see what they will become, giving them a chance at life and beauty?
Knowing that in the end I can root them out of the ground with a bit more difficulty, but with an increasing amount of certainty of their identity, I chose to leave quite a few of the questionable plants. Each one deserves a chance at life. In a couple weeks, I will see what they made of that chance.