The Cockles Of Life

“Then let thistles grow instead of wheat and weeds instead of barley.” The words of Job are ended. (Job 31:40)

The Cockles Of Life

As a penalty for taking of the forbidden fruit, Adam was not only expelled from the paradise of Eden, where he tended the garden’s trees; he would now have to work by the sweat of his brow to sustain life. The Lord cursed the ground with thorns and thistles. After the flood, the Lord assured Noah that there would be seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summers, and day and night as long as the earth remained. What the Lord did not do was take away the weeds, thorns, and thistles. It would be a challenge for men to grow their food. In the Garden of Eden, food was provided by the hand of God, but now the man had to work by the sweat of his brow to produce a crop. Part of this curse was the introduction of weeds.

Weeds are amazing but undesirable plants. They are odious, useless, troublesome, and damaging to good crops. The life cycle of weeds moves very quickly compared to a healthy crop. Jesus illustrated in the story of the four soils where the seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns sprang up, choking the seed. Explaining the parable to the disciples, Jesus shows how the word of God is sown in the hearts of men, but the cares, riches, and pleasures of life choke the word, and there is no maturity. The contrast between receiving the word of God and the life cycle of weeds is understood as how worrying about the cares of life consumes the hearts of men to make them unproductive in the kingdom of God. Riches are weeds because they are useless and troublesome. When the heart spends its life on pleasures, it finds the experience an empty and vain existence.

When Job finished defending his character, he summed it up by pleading for the thistles to grow instead of wheat and cockles (weeds) instead of barley if he was guilty. While he tried to justify himself before his three friends and ultimately God, he did know the frustration of the cockles of life. A good crop takes time to grow with great effort to remove the thorns. Weeds have no trouble growing. Great amounts of money are spent on fertilizer to help the crops grow healthy, but there is no fertilizer for weeds. They grow profusely without it. If left unattended, the weeds, thorns, vines, and thistles will overtake and choke the healthy plant. Without removing the thorns, the plant will die.

Removing weeds is arduous and exhausting work. The tender plant has tender roots, but weeds have vicious foundations. Culling through the undergrowth of overgrown thorns and thistles will leave the body bloody and wounded. Ignoring the overgrowth will lead to certain destruction. Weeds are easily identifiable. Removing them is imperative to a healthy and productive crop. The cockles of life have the same resemblance. Eliminating the things in life that drain the energy and purpose of life is difficult. Rooted with deep resources, the cares of life can overwhelm the soul to worry about what to eat, what to drink, and how to provide the necessary needs. Jesus warned about placing the treasures of life too heavily on the needs of the body when the soul needed more care. It takes time to nurture a healthy spirit to serve the Lord. Growing the weeds of life is the easy way, the broad way, and the way that leads to destruction.

A good gardener will recognize the need for weeding the flower bed, plowing the ground to remove weeds, and putting every effort into preventing the growth of thorns. The soul who loves the Lord will daily remove the temptations of life’s cares, pleasures, and riches to overtake the soul. Many cockles of life damage the fertile ground of righteousness. It takes a discerning heart to identify those things that hinder growth. When a farmer plants a crop, he expects a bountiful harvest. No harvest can come without effort. Life is not about the here and now but about the life to come. The small amount of farming done in this life will bring about the bounty of an eternal harvest with God. Failing to weed the garden here will only bring death in the life to come. It’s time to get rid of the cockles. Put your gloves on. It’s hard work but worth it.

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