For the past month, I have been studying the New Testament in a class at BYU. One of the cool things that my professor, Brother Smith, has us do in his class is keep a journal of our thoughts and impressions as we do our assigned reading. Much to his and my TA’s annoyance (probably), is the fact that I have really taken this assignment to heart. Every week I at least double the word count I’m supposed to reach. The assignment has given me the opportunity to really ponder about what I am learning from the scriptures. I spent extra time this past week reading over the parables in Matthew 13 after Brother Smith informed us that if we didn’t get anything out of them we were “faithless, unintelligent, dull, and uninspired” according to the Bible Dictionary. I especially moved by the parable of the wheat and the tares. Although my interpretation of it is not the most common, I think it still works as a fairly good metaphor:
As I read over the parable, it seemed to me as if the farmer was you or I, or any person who is trying to incorporate the gospel into their life. The farmer in this parable had incredible faith that the seed was good and would bring him a good, bountiful harvest. In the night, the adversary plants doubts, or tares, throughout our testimony of the gospel.
When the farmer wakes up in the morning and finds the doubts sprinkled throughout his testimony, he does not even think for a second that the seed was bad. He knows immediately that an enemy had come in the night to try and compromise his harvest. After the tares are discovered, his servant asks him if he wants to remove the tares and the farmer says no, “lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.” Now bear with me while I explain this part of the metaphor.
When we have questions about the gospel or doubts about some of the principles, we may be tempted to simply uproot them and cast them aside; just leave them alone because we don’t want to deal with them. The only issue is that doing so does not get rid of them all together. In the back of your mind you will always remember the doubt you had about that aspect of your testimony and eventually that aspect will lack in strength and possibly die. Thus, by uprooting the questions (tares), you accidentally uprooted the gospel principle (wheat). However if you let the questions grow along with your understanding of the gospel, then when you have a full understanding of the gospel and are ready to harvest the benefits, you will be able to clearly identify which parts of your testimony are wheat and which are doubts planted by the adversary. When you have a full understanding of the gospel, you will be able to understand and get rid of doubts by understanding them and resolving them. Boom. Drop the mic.
I know that that isn’t the way the parable is usually interpreted but I still think it works. In the often quoted words of President Uchtdorf, “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” You should never throw out your questions about the gospel, you should work hard to cultivate your understanding of the gospel so that you can better understand and resolve those questions in a way that only strengthens your testimony. I hope that we all work and pray for the ability to discern the wheat from the tares and know how to separate them in a smart, beneficial way.