Tuesday, April 11, 2023

When Bad Apples Get Off Scott Free

Suggested Reading: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Something that drives me crazy is the ability of one bad apple to ruin it for everybody else. One football player caught cheating can forfeit a season for the rest of the team which was playing by the rules. One Senator caught in an ethics scandal can cost his party the majority and change the balance of power. One lazy student can cost his project partners a decent grade. One person abusing the system can cause everyone to lose privileges. We see it happen over and over again. When one person does something wrong, everyone suffers for it.

We all hate it when we are the victims of the bad apple. Fortunately, God doesn't seem to do things that way, at least not on a large scale. In Matthew 13, Jesus was telling a parable about a farmer who planted his crops, only to discover that an enemy had snuck in during the night and planted weeds among the crops.

“‘An enemy has done this! ’ the farmer exclaimed.

“‘Should we pull out the weeds? ’ [the workers] asked.

“‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.'” (Matthew 13:28-30, NLT). 

When Jesus explains the parable, he makes it clear that the weeds are wicked people, the bad apples, but removing them would somehow be bad for the righteous, the wheat.

In life, there are certainly bad apples, people who would blow it for the rest of us if they chose. But God, for some reason, has decided that dealing with these wicked people right now would hurt us. So, God has left the wicked among us for the time being. When we see wicked people advancing and we wonder why God hasn't dealt with them yet, we must remember that God is letting the wicked remain as an act of grace for the righteous. That can be hard to wrap your mind around. But next time you see the wicked and you want to question why God has let them remain unharmed, remember that Jesus said it was for the sake of the righteous. Is it really worth the wicked getting what they deserve right now if it means the righteous will suffer?

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