There was a father who owned a large estate of farm land that divided his estate into separate fields to be managed by his sons while he was away. The father emphasized to his sons the value of the crops that grew good fruit that sustained their family’s future. He also pointed out the weeds that grow amongst the crops that do not contribute to their future. He gave his sons instructions to care for and make sure that all of the plants of the field received water and light, and the things that they needed to grow. He also taught them how to use fertilizer on the good plants to increase their output when applied carefully. But he warned them against trying to remove the weeds from the fields because they might damage some of the good crops in the process.

Once the Father was away, one of his sons was dedicated to the father’s instructions, and he focused on nurturing the fruitful crops and expanding the fruits that the would bear. His fields were expanding and bearing many fruit.

However, his brothers were lazy and thought that they knew better than their father’s instructions. So they started out by tearing down the plants that looked like weeds to them, thinking to themselves, “If the crops don’t have to compete with these weeds, they will grow better.” And then they saw that it was too difficult to always tell the difference, so they began tearing down any plants that weren’t obviously a fruit bearing plant – destroying both weeds and crops alike. Then, when they still saw how few fruit they had compared to their faithful brother, they began to say, “But he is including imperfect fruit. Our father is so wonderful that he should only receive fruit that is perfect and that meets our standards.” So they continued tearing down the crops from their own fields, only leaving the stalks that were obviously bearing fruit that looked beautiful on the outside. But even then, they weren’t applying fertilizer and nutrients that would make the inside of the fruit delicious and satisfying.

Since the one faithful brother was producing fruit both in great quantity, and whose taste and nourishment was undeniable because of the care and fertilizing and nourishment that he provided for his crops, and since any blemishes on the outside of the fruit were quickly ignored and dismissed when the delicious and satisfying nourishment of the inside was uncovered – this only served to make the other brothers hate him even more. So in their envy and hardened hearts, they watched closely, waiting for an opportunity to complain against the one brother.

They began to spread the word that the proper way to harvest and care for the crops was to tear down and destroy those crops that weren’t up to their father’s standards, and they tried to turn the opinions of the people against the faithful brother who provided for all of the plants and was following his father’s instructions. But even with all of their lobbying to try to convince others to be against their faithful brother, it was hard to argue against the quantity and quality of fruit that was being produced.

The faithful son was dedicated to improving the output of his fields, so he received a container from a trusted friend that was labeled in a foreign language. Misunderstanding the translation, he used it on some of his good crops, thinking that it was fertilizer. But he was shocked at the reaction of the plants, and he began to realize that he had mistaken a poison for fertilizer. He moved quickly to acknowledge his oversight, take responsibility, and make corrections to insure that it would not happen again.

But his envious brothers who did not care about his genuine love and care and dedication to the crops, and who did not care that he was following his father’s instructions, saw an opportunity to attack him openly in front of the people. They argued that this was proof that their way of tearing down did not put crops at risk of being accidentally poisoned. All the time, they were ignoring the lack of good fruit being produced from their own fields. But these envious brothers were more intent on the people believing and following their ways of harvesting as the right way, than they were interested in the quality or quantity of the fruit being harvested.

And when the Father returns, expecting to harvest the fields, gathering the fruit together, and casting the weed on the fire to be burned – who will he find favor with?

The faithful son that followed his instructions, caring for all of the plants, fertilizing and tending the garden, not destroying or tearing down the weeds because he was mindful that it might harm the good, fruit bearing crops?

Or the sons that have laid waste to his fields, destroying both good and bad, so they could have a few fruit that look beautiful on the outside, but are dead and rotten on the inside?