Wheat, Weeds, and Mercy

Tyndale House Publishers has recently released a Revised & Expanded version of Jen Hatmaker’s book “Interrupted”, and I have been privileged enough to review the new edition here on the Inkwell. Enjoy!

Ever read Matthew 13:24-30?

For those who might not be familiar with the reference, it’s commonly referred to as the Parable of the Weeds. Essentially, good seeds and bad seeds are sown in the same field, both weeds and wheat come up, and when the servants see this they immediately volunteer to go pull the weeds out. Their master stops them, explaining that some of the wheat might get pulled up with the weeds. He says it will be better to let them both grow, and to separate them out at the harvest.

As far as parables go, this one seems pretty self explanatory, especially if you grew going to church and Sunday School most of your life. It’s one of those parts of the Bible we kind of skim over, mentally going “yep, yep, good one”.

I got it.

Jen, however, made a statement that made me truly stop and think.

“The risk of encountering a few weeds is not sufficient reason to avoid the whole field of human suffering, because I assure you, identifying with the wheat but not the weeds is a gross overestimation of our own station. The correct character to identify with here is the weed shown mercy, not the Savior capable of discerning the human heart.”

I read it again, I got out my Bible and read Matthew 13, and I was humbled to realize that I have truly never identified myself as being the proverbial weed here.

Not once.

I read it through the eyes of a believer who knows they are headed to an eternity in heaven; I read it with the assumption that some “other” people obviously are weeds, with the comfort that comes from knowing “they” will all get sorted out in the end.

Beyond never identifying myself with the weed, I’ll go one embarrassing step further and say that maybe I even have thought I had a lot more in common with the one deciding which stalks are wheat and which are weeds than I did with the weeds themselves.

The master in the parable called his servants off, however, refusing to possibly lose even one stalk of wheat in the aftermath of trying to get rid of all the weeds in the middle of the growing process.

How often have I found myself taking on that servant role, trying to sort people out now, to separate those who, in my opinion, maybe seem more like weeds than like wheat, all in the name of serving the master.

These words of Jen’s blessed my heart in so many ways: “We are only qualified to administer mercy, not judgment, because we will pull up many a beautiful stalk of wheat, imagining him a weed.”

Elsewhere, the message remains similar, reminding us again and again that God’s desire is not a church body that exists to separate itself off into manicured groups that are “blessing the blessed people and serving the saved” while the rest of His people are “crumbling and dying and starving” outside of our very doors.

The message of “Interrupted” is a message of loving people – serving people – not only is it what we are called to as Christians, but because it is literally the example Jesus set for us in both his teachings and in the way he lived his life here on earth.

It will not be easy. So quickly we lose heart, fall back, or get discouraged. 

“We are easily distracted, losing perspective and reacting desperately, but no circumstance gives us license to discard the essentials: love, mercy, compassion, justice.”

The point of loving and serving is not to give you some “feel good” emotions you can go home with when you leave it all behind you. It’s to change how you interact with the world, with your neighbors, with your God.

It will open your eyes, soften your heart, give you a newfound sense of compassion, and love, and absolute awe at the ultimate mercy and love revealed to us by our Savior.

There is so much more that could be said about this subject (and of course the book says so much more than I was able to say here!). 

If the premise interests you, definitely check out the book! In store it can be found at Barnes and Noble, and online you can check out www.jenhatmaker.com.