He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ” Matthew 13.24-30 (ESV)
Five things you need to know about your enemy:
1. Your enemy is real.
The enemy in this parable is not merely a symbolic presence, but he is just as real as the sower. Satan is no mere fairy tale. Notice that in this parable, nobody actually saw the enemy; they only observed his destructive work and wondered how it happened. “How then does it have weeds?” asked the workers. Notice that it was the sower who told his men it was the work of an enemy. This teaches us that we must listen to the God's voice as He cautions us of the devil's evil work.
2. Your enemy is a believer.
Just as the enemy is real, he also believes in the sower. That may sound absurdly obvious, but too often we put Satan in the category that we call “unbelievers.” Remember James 2.19, “even the demons believe--and shudder.” The enemy is a believer! He knows God is real and he is fully aware of the nature of God’s mission. And here is the kicker: your enemy very willingly puts his “faith” into action, because he will do whatever he can to disarm or destroy those who work for Jesus.
3. Your enemy is a sower.
We see in verse 25, “his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat.” The vast majority of believers shy away from bearing witness of their faith, providing countless clever excuses for their unwillingness to share the treasure God has given them. You may be reluctant to be a sower--but the enemy himself is a sower, and a very willing one at that. Sadly, this fact alone makes him more faithful than most believers. The difference is what the enemy sows, that which is destructively opposed to what God sows. It is no wonder Jesus said that our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt 5.20).
4. Your enemy is a hard worker.
The devil has a strong work ethic and is willing to put in overtime. Once again, he outshines many among the children of Light. Take note of the time of day that he worked in this passage: “while his (the good sower’s) men were sleeping.” That's right, he is willing to work the graveyard shift in order to limit or destroy God’s crop and the work you put into it. The enemy is not merely a part-time nuisance but is completely devoted to his mission of destruction.
5. Your enemy uses simple, reproducible methods.
This parable is a story of sabotage where a competing crop is sown over a good one. Scholars suggest that these weeds (called ‘tares’ or ‘darnel’ in some translations) could well be Lolium temulentum, a poisonous ryegrass that resembles wheat in its early stages. Sowing weeds among the wheat was actually an incredibly simple method that required very little time and work. All the enemy had to do was scatter his competing seed across the field—major damage done in a very short time.
What the enemy did may have been simple, but it was no small tactic as it created a persistent problem lasting right up to harvest time. The enemy in this parable pulled off an amazing stunt indeed, demonstrating that Satan has cleverly infiltrated the Kingdom. Not only does the enemy work hard, he works smart, so don’t underestimate his cleverness. He knows that his work is not just effective, but it is highly contagious among the sons of darkness. This should drive us to our knees as we seek the greater wisdom of God. It should also compel us to be obedient to Jesus' Great Commission, using the simple yet effective tools He has given us, to multiply disciples, churches, and leaders everywhere.