April 17

Text: Matthew 13:25, 26

"But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away.  But when the wheat sprang up and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.” (NASB)

The parable of Matthew 13:24-30 has an element that was instantly recognized then, but is unnoticed by many now.  The enemy did not just sow weeds, but he sowed tares—a weed that looks like the wheat plant until the wheat begins to “put on a head” or bear wheat.  In the early stages of growth, the wheat and the tare are virtually indistinguishable.  Early on, the tare is a true “look alike.”

Jesus had much to say about the deception of “look alikes.”  For example, he spoke of “look alike” trees that were distinguishable only by the fruit they bore, of “look alike” wolves that camouflaged themselves as sheep, and of “look alike” teachers who performed signs in Jesus’ name but who practiced lawlessness (see Matthew 7:15-23), as well as tares.

In Jesus’ lifetime, the emphasis of holiness was on appearance.  Does the person keep the rituals?  Does the person follow the laws and the customs?  Does the person associate with the proper people?  Does the person avoid the “wrong” places?  The person’s motives or objectives were not important.  The important matter was this: does he or she do the right things?

Jesus stressed internal purity.  Obedience was important IF it reflected godly motives and dedication to God’s purposes.  What a person did outwardly was to reflect an inner surrender to God.  There was and is an enormous difference in having the appearance of righteousness and actually being righteous.

Can people always distinguish between the “look alikes” and the “real thing” just by appearances?  No!  The product of one’s life is as important as the appearance of one’s life.  A person must be genuine.

Suggestion for reflection: Be genuine, not deceptive.  (Read James 1:12-18.)

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