Although the "tares" in Matthew thirteen are described as "the children of the wicked one," sown into the "wheat" field for nefarious reasons, they are, nevertheless, lost souls who need to be reached (v. 38). Every church has them! Some churches have a lot of them!! As a pastor for some 30 years, I have known far too many professing Christians who were clearly missing something. Whether it was detected in an uncomfortability with worship, a lack of desire to witness to the unreached, an absence of any mention of their personal relationship with Jesus, or the absence of joy in their lives, we've all known good church going people who have left us to wonder about the true nature of their faith.
Wheat and tares can look remarkably alike. But in reality, they are nothing alike. One is a vital plant, full of nourishment. The other is a mere weed, which if left unchecked, will choke out the vitality of the harvest. This is exactly why the Lord Himself used them as an example of unbelievers blending into the body life of the Church. My pastor's heart is greatly burdened for these people. For I am convinced that, although they may be plants, most of them don't realize that about themselves.
To begin the illustration, project an image like the one below as an object lesson for how similar the two can appear.
Are you a "tare" or a "wheat?" This question is really, really important because Jesus warns us that some may genuinely think that they are “wheat,” that they possess a saving faith, when in actuality they are “tares.” It’s not that tares are bad people, in fact, they may be some of the best people any of us will ever meet. That’s the problem!
Tares may be fooled into thinking that they are genuine believers because they look like a genuine believer. After all, they do all the things that genuine believers do, they hangout in all the same places where genuine believers hangout. But just as a tare looks just like a wheat plant in the early stages of its development, these wonderful people can appear to everyone, even to themselves, to be something they’re not.
If Jesus words give you any cause for pause, then by all means take the time to reflect. Ask yourself, “Is there something missing?” Perhaps, upon reflection, you will realize that there have always been certain things that you never really understood. Perhaps you chalked these things up to meaningless “church talk.” Nevertheless, you have watched other believers get excited about things that you felt no excitement for, or be moved by things that didn’t move you.
Once again, you chalked these experiences up to a case of them being “hyper-religious.” But just because you don’t have a personal experience with something doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Could it be that they have experienced something that you have not yet experienced? Here’s the thing, we don’t know what we don’t know. So, assume you may have missed something, especially when you have the Bible describing salvation as the "narrow way" and warning you that "few will find it" (Matthew 7:14).
Know--that you know--that you know what Jesus is talking about here! I personally know what it is to have been a tare and how it’s different from being a wheat for one reason and for one reason only; I was once a tare and now I’m a wheat! Can you say that? It’s SO important that you not become defensive here. No one is judging you, or claiming to be better than you. That, by the way, is how tares often respond!
The wheat rejoice because they belong to Jesus! Do you have that joy? The wheat rest in the assurance that they are going to heaven because Jesus did all that was required of them! Do you possess that assurance? Search yourself thoroughly here. Don’t be satisfied until you can sing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see,” and really know what that means!