In Matthew Chapter 13, Jesus shares the parable of the wheat and the tares. In summary, a man plants his field with wheat. In the night, an enemy plants tares, a poisonous weed that is nearly identical to wheat until the fruit actually appears.
The sower of the seeds, the Lord, tells his servants to wait to pluck the tares until the final harvest, “lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.” In other words, since the plants look so similar, the servant might accidentally pick the wheat, mistaking it for a tare.
The point of this parable that I’m most familiar with is the message that the wheat and the tares, or the righteous and the wicked, will grow together until the last days. Then the Lord will gather the wheat and burn the tares.”
But lately, I’ve been mindful of another lesson this parable teaches us.
My friend, there are those among us today that we may judge to be tares, when in reality, they are wheat. Their fruit is simply still growing. The Lord knows their hearts. We, His servants, are not able to judge near as accurately. And when we are wrong, we inadvertently pluck a blade of wheat, denying ourselves and the world of the fruit they have to offer.
This lesson is helpful in several different scenarios.
First, sometimes the gospel feels lonely. Our family may not believe and our friends may be few. We may trudge along the strait and narrow, seemingly alone. However, much like President Monson in his days in the Navy, his chief officer dismissed the soldiers to the irrespective churches— Catholics, Jewish, Protestants. The men “fell out” until President Monson was standing alone. Or so he thought. Then came the words, “And just what do you guys call yourselves?”
“Mormons, Sir,” President Monson and his comrades replied.
I testify to you that whether you can see them or not, and whether or not you can recognize their spiritual strengths, you are among wheat. Keep looking for the companionship the gospel offers. It’s there, and there are more than you’ll ever know. In the times that we all face where there truly are no mortals beside us, take faith in the promise that President Monson shares, “We are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven.”
Second, this parable gives us courage in missionary work. “Not my neighbor,” we’re tempted to say. “I’ve already tried and they said no.”
We may laugh when names come to mind. “No way,” we’re tempted to say. “My family is prideful. My neighbors are addicts. My friends are unpleasant.”
Remember, until the final day, wheat and tares are indistinguishable. It’s possible you’re wrong. Friend, it’s likely you’re wrong. Be brave enough to try. Bear your testimony, minister, fellowship, pray. When you face rejection, be brave enough to be patience. You may need it for years. But never, ever give up, determining that those you love are nothing more than tares. Their day is coming. “Keep going,” says Elder Christofferson, “and the Lord will help you.”
Third, this parable is helpful for those of us who need the reminder that those who have wandered are not lost forever. They are not tares, doomed to be burned at the last days. Only God can see the fruit that is beginning to grow.
Your children, your parents, your siblings, your friends, and most importantly, YOU, have much more faith than is visible to your mortal eye. You are not lost forever. No matter how your path winds or how your faith fluctuates, no matter what sins you have committed, or what opportunities you have missed, the Lord God atoned for it all. He loves each of His sheep, and the plan has allowed for each of us to return home. God hasn’t given up on you or them or any of us. Don’t you give up either. Nourish yourself and those around you like you would nourish every other blade of wheat in your path. Love, learn, pray, and on the day that the Lord appears for the final harvest, you and those you love will greet Him together to be taken home eternally.
In a world that feels dark and hopeless far too often, find the peace of the gospel that there is still time. The Lord is pleased with your efforts. Your progress is changing lives, even if you don’t see it today. When the call seems too much to bear, remind yourself that Lord is master over the field. Satan’s attempts to thwart the plan are futile. You are the people you love are precious blades of wheat, sown with care, with important fruit to bear. Care for each person as such, and your life and theirs will be immeasurable blessed.