Larry Buford (File photo)

I was watching a documentary on Black country singer Charlie Pride in which he recounted picking cotton in Mississippi. As a youngster, he tried to outdo his father, but when they got to the scales, his father’s sack always outweighed his by 25 or 30 pounds. Pride said he looked back down the rows and just knew that he had picked just as much or more cotton than his father and couldn’t figure it out until his father revealed a lesson: When you drag the sack you pick up more dust and burrs so that the sack takes on extra weight.

That lesson reminded me of the biblical parable of wheat and tares (or weeds). I will try to unpack an analogy by starting with the old expression “carrying [the weight of] the world on your shoulders.” The definition of tare weight – sometimes called unladen weight – is, “the weight of an empty vehicle or container. By subtracting tare weight from gross weight (laden weight), one can determine the weight of the goods carried or contained (the net weight).” The meaning of the word laden is “heavily loaded or weighed down, carrying a load or burden, encumbered.”

In the parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30), Jesus said: “[The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from? An enemy did this, he replied. The servants asked him, do you want us to go and pull them up? No, he answered, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time, I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.]”

Life is about choices. Either we choose to follow God’s precepts, or we don’t. The Bible says in Mark 10:17-22, when the rich young ruler encountered Jesus and asked what must he do to inherit eternal life, Jesus challenged him to sell his possessions, give to the poor and “follow me.” At that, the man walked away grieved by Jesus’ answer. The story reads that Jesus loved him, but what we don’t read is Jesus running after the young man to try and shove anything down his throat; He just gave him a choice. The only record of Jesus being insistent is when he drove the vendors out of the temple.

What sin is greater than any other sin listed in the 10 commandments (Exodus 20: 1-17)? If we’re guilty of one, we’re guilty of all. Verse three says “You shall have no other gods [idols] before me.” The problem with the rich young ruler was that he identified with his riches and status more than he did of things eternal. What is it that you put before God?

So, if Jesus didn’t push and shove, why are so-called Christians trying to do so on today’s social issues? Everyone will be accountable in the end. There is nothing new under the sun; anthropologists have discovered the subject of abortion etched on the walls of ancient caves. I’ve heard soldiers tell stories of how they were told by their superiors not to go to the “red district” where prostitutes were while on furlough – the more they were told not to go, the more they wanted to. The adage “rules are meant to be broken” is a ploy of the enemy – the devil, who is called “the prince of the air” and “ruler of this world” – pertaining to world systems.

Some Christian leaders today are joining the political chorus of liars and deceivers, forsaking and/or compromising the Great Commission to spread the good news (the Gospel). As I’ve said before: How can anyone believe them for anything while they idolize people who promote proven, court-rejected lies and deceit? They engage in passionate debates about abortion, transgenderism, and homosexuality; but thieves and adulterers are just as guilty. We are all guilty of some sin, transgression, or iniquity; and are in need of a Savior.

Jesus cares. He says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).”

Like wheat and tares growing together, we all live, work, and play together. If church leaders would just confine themselves to the message of the cross to spread the good news so that people will be without excuse, that’s all that’s required. Jesus just told the truth and went about His business to reconcile mankind to the Father. John 3:17 reads, “God sent his Son [Jesus] into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” Must Jesus bear the cross alone?

If we believe and declare “There is only one race, the human race” why is there so much division? Let’s remember the lyrics to the song “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” that was a world-wide hit for The Hollies in 1969: “If I’m laden at all/I’m laden with sadness/that everyone’s heart/isn’t filled with the gladness/of love for one another.”

Larry Buford is the author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” and “Book To The Future” (Amazon). Email: [email protected]