Oh Be Careful Little Eyes HOW You See
“But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live.” Numbers 33:55
Have you ever noticed the kind of things that get noticed? They tend to have one element in common: their size. For example, did you know that the largest pumpkin ever grown weighed in at 2,058 pounds? Or, did you know the largest monster truck, known as Bigfoot, stands a whopping 15 feet tall, as its body is perched upon tires that are 10 feet high? Or what about the largest home, or should I say house, in the United States: the Biltmore. It boasts of 135,280 square feet of “living space”. (That’s right…living space. The garages, attics, and verandas are not included in this figure.) Then, there’s Mr. Ronnie Coleman. He’s the biggest body builder in the world. He holds eight Mr. Olympia titles and, even though his legs look a lot like those of a dissected frog, he is well-known for his sculpted physique. And, last but not least in our examination of things humungous, how would you like to know the highest paid salary? If you thought it was $377,996,536…you were wrong. It is actually $377,996,537! The one to whom such bounty falls is none other than Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.
Like I said, big things get noticed. But sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes the big things lurk behind or beside other things that are similar to them in size and so their identity goes unnoticed…and unchecked. That’s what happened in our garden spot. I was watering some pepper plants (basically giving them hose to root resuscitation) when I spotted some weeds. I reached down to pluck them out and came across the stem of something growing beside the pepper plant. Its stem was so large that I hesitated to pull it. Surely it wasn’t a weed…it was too big to be a weed. (Oh the foolishness of innocent assumptions, not to mention the veiled vanity; did I really think it was a stretch to find a large weed…no, a record setting weed…in our garden? Really?) At any rate, I decided to follow the stalk of this giant plant up to its leaves to that I could determine if it was, in fact, a weed or some newly developed hybrid pepper plant. After passing a boy named Jack and a traumatized goose, I came upon the leaves and discovered, to my dismay, that the plant was indeed a weed. And then, perhaps because of the altitude, a great thought hit me: size matters. Not always; not in every situation. Not when it comes to pumpkins, or trucks, or houses, or muscles, or salaries; but when it comes to things hiding out where they don’t belong, then yes, size matters.
As I pulled the large weed out of the garden, I realized the reason it had been overlooked before was due to its placement beside the pepper plant. Their stems were so close together that the weed went undetected and, therefore, was allowed to grow, and grow, and (did I mention it was large?) grow. Once the growing had occurred, the very nature of its girth made me question whether or not it was even a weed. How unbelievably depictive this is of our world today. We live within gardens of truth; we sometimes think truth is out of season, but it is still there because it is embodied in God’s word, which will not return void (Is. 55:11). But also growing in our gardens are the weeds of deception, and all too often they are sidled up against the stalks of truth. If we aren’t careful, they’ll become large enough for us to overlook the tell-tale signs written upon their leaves and their fruit and we’ll think that, since they are so big…so prominent…so intellectual…so authoritative…they must be truthful. We’ll mistake the weed for a plant and we’ll withdraw our hand from plucking it out of the soil. And it will grow, and grow, and grow. And soon we won’t be able to distinguish it from the plant it once hid beside. In fact, if we’re not careful, we might even pull up the plant in order to give the weed more room to grow.
Does this sound too fictional; too “Once upon a time-ish”? Well, let’s just see if we can’t identify the evidence of such weeds within our gardens. Let’s start with the weed disguising itself as courage. Courage is defined as the mental or moral strength used to overcome trials, fears, and dangers. Since 1993, the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage has been given to individuals who have faced and overcome great difficulties. In 2009, Nelson Mandella received this award; in 2012 Pat Summitt was recognized; in 2015 Caitlyn Jenner was selected. Do you see the growth of a weed and, perhaps, its rise above the plant it hid behind?
Now let’s examine the weed of plurality and neutrality. How about the weed that stated all things would be equal for everyone if nothing was protected for anyone? (I know this sounds contradictory; it is, which is kind of the point.) This one hid beside the plant that brought religious freedom and bore fruit in the form of prayer in school, at ballgames, and at graduation ceremonies. And what about simply displaying the Ten Commandments on public grounds? Once again the weed crept up and attached itself to the true plant that it might disguise its truly deceitful nature. And the weeds grew, and grew, and grew. And now, which stands taller, the weeds or the plants? Which ones have become the plants and which have been mislabeled as weeds?
Here’s another one (oh, but we live in a weedy garden!). How about the weeds that have the thickest stalks because they have grown to such heights that they now hold the labeling gun and place their own identity upon the things growing in the garden? These weeds kept themselves so well hidden that they were able to scale the heights of the plants around them so that their leaves emerged above their true counterparts and were undistinguishable to those below until their fruit started to fall. And when it did, it brought about the “right” to abort a child and the “wrong” to biblically define marriage. I offer up the weed of a worldly judicial system.
Does that sound harsh or honest? Do you too see a parallel between the proximity of weeds to plants and the world’s acceptance of lies hiding behind truth? Oh be careful little eyes how you see. It’s time for us to take a closer look at what is growing around us, perhaps even beside us, and at what we are mistaking for truth. Let’s not be fooled by size; the size of something does not estimate its value nor does it establish its validity. There are small weeds that need to be pulled up and there are large, branchy, shady growths that appear to be plants, perhaps even hide behind plants, but they too are weeds, and they too need to be uprooted. May we all become expert gardeners and not only rightly divide the word of truth, but also rightly divide the weeds from the plants, and then have the wisdom and courage to pull up those weeds!