READ: Matthew 13:24-43
THINK: Do you like word pictures and stories? Jesus did. He used many parables (i.e., brief, illustrative stories) to teach lessons and principles about how God's kingdom operates and what things will be like for His people on earth until Jesus returns (see 13:3 note). Not all of these stories are easy to understand, But Jesus reveals the meaning to those who are ready to listen and follow His instructions, warnings and guidance. Jesus will have such followers throughout the world, and all will encounter similar challenges.
RESPOND: What do the "wheat" and "weeds" represent? (See 13:24-25 note.) What is Jesus' point in describing wheat and weeds growing together (vv. 24-30, 36–43)? Why doesn't God remove the weeds immediately, but instead allows evil to co-exist among His people? (See 13:30 note.) Is evil always obvious? Why or why not? How does this situation test Jesus' true followers? How can the weeds affect God's kingdom if His people are not careful? How and why are Christians often influenced by ungodly people around them? What ultimately happens to the "weeds" and to the "wheat"? (See 13:41 and 13:42 notes.)
PRAY: Express thanks to God for allowing you to be part of His kingdom. Ask Him for spiritual insight and discernment so you can detect the "weeds' around you. Pray for strength and determination to resist and overcome evil's influence.
ACT: Don't expect a weed free environment in order to grow spiritually. But inspect your own life for weeds--those you need to pull out--and make sure the weeds around you are not choking out your devotion to Christ or hindering your fruitfulness for God.
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