A woman approached me hesitantly and expressed these unforgettable words through tears, "I'm so tired of compromising me. When does it end?" The short answer to that desperate plea was "when we understand our worth".
When in flower, most thistles produce a lovely purple / mauve bloom, while some species are known for their yellow inflorescence hue. Staring out over a massive wheat field, I noticed this stark contrast to the naked eye. Thistles, with their vibrant color can be pleasing to look at, especially against the drab golden brown, yet I observed, they are busy at work doing one thing, stealing our focus, distracting us from the value of the surrounding wheat.
We, fellow Christians, are the wheat! And the fact that there are thistles in our field does not reduce our value.
"God's kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn. When the first green shoots appeared and the grain began to form, the thistles showed up too. The farmhands came to the farmer and said, 'Master, that was clean seed you planted, wasn't it? Where did these thistles come from? He answered, 'Some enemy did this.' "The farmhands asked, 'Should we weed out the thistles?' He said, " No, if you weed the thistles, you'll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time. Then I'll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn."(Matthew 13: 24 - 26)
Scripture let's us know that the farmer (God) planted good seed (us) in his field. Our God is the producer of good seed. So there is nothing wrong with the seed that has been planted within us. Yes, since the fall of man we have stood face to face with our darkness and we dwell in a fallen world, and we've all done some pretty awful things, but the seed itself, placed within us, is good. Yet like the farmhands, we look at our surroundings and begin to question whether or not the seed God planted was good, 'Master, that was clean seed you planted, wasn't it? Where did these thistles come from? We've come to believe that if thistles exists, then something must be wrong with us.
The thistles among us, scripture says, has been sown by the enemy and then he slips away. Why slip away? Because he does not have the authority to destroy the wheat, but only to threaten us by appearing side by side. Standing in the shadows. Where there is good, bad is along side it. Beckoning us to forget who and whose we are. Like with Job, the enemy was determined to get him to forsake his identity, his worth and to curse God. It comes down to what are we choosing to focus on.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Heb. 12: 1)
They then ask the Master if they should weed out the thistles and he gives an interesting reply, "No, if you weed the thistles, you'll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time." The God of all power chose to allow the thistles to stay. We are too valuable to God, for him to lose even the smallest of us. Instead, he lets us grow together with our thorns in tack until harvest time.
We see this in Paul's infamous plea to God to remove his thorn in II Cor. 12: 8-10.
"Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Like Paul we want the thorns and thistles of life to be taken away. But unlike Paul, we compromise in an effort to rid ourselves of the burden, as if to persuade the thistles to go away. Their very presence somehow convinces us we don't belong in the field. That maybe our seed was bad. But God doesn't make mistakes! Ridding ourselves of the thistles go against the design of God, the farmer. He is glorified through our imperfections, not our perfections.
So if the answer isn't in destroying the thistles, it must lie in our knowing the worth of the wheat. It's time for a spiritual mind change. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. Our thorns and thistles are there to push us into the struggle of change.
The Bible refers to "thistles " as a symbol of desolation or wilderness, and about 20 different words relate to some kind of prickly or thorny plant. They are one of the most common wildflowers in Israel, rapidly taking over any open patch of wasteland or untended meadows. Has your spiritual ground become dry, open and uncovered soil which is like a thistle's welcome mat. Are you leaving yourself spiritually untended, worrying about the thistles of life looming near?
We see this played out in Luke 8: 4-8, the parable of the soils. "When a great crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from one city after another, he spoke to them in a parable: “A farmer went out to scatter his seed. As he was scattering it, some fell on the path where it was crushed, and the birds in the sky came and ate it. Other seed fell on rock. As it grew, it dried up because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorns grew with the plants and choked them. Still other seed landed on good soil. When it grew, it produced one hundred times more grain than was scattered.” The seeds scattered were all good seed, the soil determined whether or not it took root.
If we care for what is of great worth (the wheat), it will take care of what is of little value (the thistles). The question is, are you focused on the right thing?
Here's a reality check:
The current price of wheat as of April 2021 is $7,242.50 per bushel.
The current price for milk thistle, believed to have mild health benefits, is less than $10.
The enemy has gotten us to exchange our $7000 inheritance for a $10 mirage.
YOU ARE THE WHEAT! the good seed worth saving.
Do you know your own worth?