“…The kingdom of God is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field…” Matthew 13:31
Christ used this illustration as part of a series of parables where He was communicating the nature of the kingdom of God. He offered this comparison right before He gave his parable about the wheat and tares.
I’m no farmer. In fact, when I was a kid my mom tried to get me to help her weed her garden, but I couldn’t tell the good stuff from the bad stuff. Worse, I often trampled the good stuff. One day it got so bad my mom finally lost her patience and said: “Glenn! Glenn! get out of here. You’re killing everything!” Then she made my brothers help her. (Hahaha! Win-win for me!) Anyway, if I were a farm hand on a place that grew wheat, there’s no way I could tell the difference between the wheat (pictured above on the left), or the tares (shown on the right). That’s the point that the Lord was making, too. In the parable it was probably experienced farm hands asking their lord if they should pull up the tares and the lord said, “No,” because not even the pros can always tell, and even if they could they’d run the risk of uprooting the wheat in the process. The lord instructed them to wait until both the wheat and the tares reached maturity.
Did you know that tares can grow everywhere that wheat can? It’s kind of like hypocrites can show up in the same churches as godly people. It’s practically unavoidable. Did you also know that you can create flour out of tares just like you can wheat and make things like bread out of it? The only problem is that bread made of tares can kill you. Hypocrisy is the same way.
Christians and hypocrites seem a lot alike because they do a lot of the same things: They go to church; they sing in the choir; they go on visitation. The only difference between the godly and the hypocrites is why they do what they do. Hypocrites do what they do to be seen of men (Matthew 6:2). The godly do what they do for the glory of God.
The point the Lord is making here is that it is not our call to decide who’s a hypocrite and who is not because we’re likely to get it all wrong and uproot good people. The only way to really tell is by what they become as they mature.
When tares (also known as darnel) becomes mature, the head of the grain turns black. When wheat matures, it turns a golden brown. (Ever hear of “amber waves of grain?”) Once that happens, the difference between the two becomes really clear.
So what does all of this have to do with that mustard seed illustration? Simply this: It’s not about staying a seed; it’s about maturing into what God intends you to be. When Christ shared that mustard seed illustration His focus wasn’t really on how small the seed is. It was on what it becomes. That’s how God always sees us: He sees us for what we can become in Christ.
So what’s the take away? God wants us to be maturing Christians. We’ll never be fully complete in this life, but we should always be maturing toward greater and greater Christ-likeness so even an amateur can see the difference between us and everyone else!