What’s the Difference Between a Weed and a Flower?

One of the things I’ve always been a strong advocate for in parenting is letting your children work along with you.  This can lead to some frustrating projects to be sure, but in spite of the frustration, the dividends are well worth this investment in your children.  Recently I was doing a bit of gardening with my sons.  We were pulling weeds and my oldest son asked me, “how do you know what’s a weed and what’s a flower?”  Without really thinking I replied, “I planted the garden, so I know what’s what.”  As I contemplated this response, I became aware that that’s not just the case for gardening, but it’s the case with all of life.

In Genesis 1 we see a pattern emerge as God creates the world.  “And God saw that it was good (vv. 3, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).”  God creates “good”.  Only God knows what is truly good.  He planted the garden, so he gets to decide.  This is a simple yet powerful truth about God and about the world he created.  God determines what is good.  This brings us to several important applications:

1.  God created a moral universe

There’s a place in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe where Aslan strikes a deal with the White Witch to free Edmund from his treason.  During this negotiation Aslan asks the Witch about the Deep Magic in Narnia.  The Witch responds, “Tell you what is written of that very Table of Stone?…Tell you what is engraved on the scepter of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea? You at least know the Magic which the Emperor put into Narnia at the very beginning?”  What C.S. Lewis is referencing here is what theologians have long referred to as God’s Moral Law.  It’s this definition of what is right and what is wrong that God actually builds into his creation.  What is God doing in Genesis 1 by declaring things to be good?  He is building a moral universe; pouring into it, marking it, stamping it with what he declares to be good.

2. Only God is capable of determining right and wrong

By turning away from God in the Garden, Adam and Eve attempted to determine for themselves that which is right and that which is wrong.  And this has been the story for every human being since then.  We all strive to be our own little gods.  And at the heart of this colossal transfer of power lies the false reality of being able to determine right and wrong for ourselves.  “What I say, goes…”, and on and on we go.  It isn’t until Christ moves powerfully within our sinful hearts that we begin to change.  Our desire for our own standards of right and wrong is that strong, that it takes God’s mighty hand in our lives to begin to change us.  He alone is what it takes to transform us from ‘little gods ruling’ to ‘little people being ruled’.  From there we begin to re-learn what is right and what is wrong, based upon God’s standard, laid out for us in God’s Word.

3.  We grow in fellowship with God as we submit to his standards of right and wrong

“If you love me, keep my commands (John 14:15).”  This is a teaching that has fallen on hard times of late.  How do you love God?  Well, in large part this is done by our obedience to him.  This is not to be confused with the how’s or why’s of God’s love for us.  God’s love for us doesn’t have any other reason except for that he does.  What we’re talking about here is our love for him.  We do this by learning his standard of right and wrong and then putting that to practice in our own lives.  This is a lifelong process, but we continue to trust and pray that what God requires of his people, God also provides.

So continue to work with your kids.  Continue to listen to them and do your best to answer their “unanswerable questions”.  When you do you’ll almost always learn something.  But when it comes to those pesky weeds, and the difference between them and flowers, maybe it will remind you of God’s great love for you.  That he loved you so much he provided you with a way of learning, knowing, and following what is right and forsaking what is wrong.