He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.” Matthew 13:24-25
Every year as spring begins its march toward summer, I prepare for a season of gorgeous, knock-out roses by feeding and protecting our bushes with a systemic fertilizer and insect repellant. Well, almost every year.
Not this one.
This year just got busy, and I didn’t make the time.
And my lack of preparation left me with a nasty, tedious task: hand-picking Japanese beetles from the plants that were feasting on the leaves and new buds.
I know I’m supposed to love God’s creatures. And I do. Most of them. But my experience with these beetles has me almost convinced that these creatures weren’t part of God’s original creation. Like the thorn, they must have come after the fall.
You see, I can’t see what benefit they bring. They eat everything, leaving destruction in their wake. Buds that began with unhindered potential for flourishing beauty never get their opportunity to open. Instead, these creatures devour them, biting holes right through the layers of delicate petals until the bud withers and dies on the stem without ever opening.
Buds created with promise never satisfy their purpose.
And those clingy, crawling creatures had access to my garden because I got lazy. I let my guard down and rested from the work instead of doing what I know to be best for my plants.
Proverbs 6:10-11 and Proverbs 24:33-34 offer this sobering warning.
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
When God repeats Himself, we should take notice. Slumber allows poverty to overtake us like an armed man. Just like folding my hands allowed an enemy to destroy my roses.
I can’t help thinking that’s precisely how our spiritual enemy works in our lives. He waits for us to let our guard down, then lands where we’ve given him access and eats away at us little by little, leaving holes and scars that rob our potential. And if permitted, he’ll continue to nibble away until the glorious beauty that God wove into our DNA withers without ever blooming.
You know that’s his goal, don’t you? He doesn’t want you to become who God created you to be. So he steals, kills, and destroys (John 10:10), hoping you’ll never discover you hold the power to defeat him.
1 Peter 5:8 clearly describes his intentions.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Like those beetles in my garden, our enemy devours. Thankfully this verse also offers the means to our defense. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Know he’s coming, dear one, and proceed with diligence. Don’t let complacency give him a foothold.
Trust me. I learned from those beetles. It’s easier to block his access than to remove him once you’ve given him ground. And scripture is your systemic fertilizer. It provides what you need to grow strong and repels the enemy’s advance.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
You and I can’t get lazy about feeding on scripture. It’s our lifeline.
Take the time to read the Word, beloved. Meet Jesus in it. His Word is your impenetrable defense against the enemy. And if you have stumbled and given him unwanted access, don’t despair. Keep planting seed.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10
It’s Christ’s power that defeats your enemy and establishes you.
His Word releases His power.