As I pulled up the more deeply rooted weeds around those morning glories, I often pulled up a few earthworms. Earthworms are a good sign. They work to cultivate the soil and leave it well fertilized. Generally speaking, the more earthworms you find, the better your crop and the prettier your flowers. But a few times I pulled up some ugly stuff--things that were not beneficial to the plants, things that would feed on the roots, and eventually kill them.
I couldn’t help but think of the “underground” among God’s people. I think one of the most comforting things to know is that there are a few earthworms out there in the garden, good people quietly seeing to the things they can, visiting, calling, advising, teaching, and in the process defusing a few bombs before anyone even knows they are there. They take care of the minor problems so the elders have the time to deal with the major ones. In fact, because of their work, some of the major problems never come to pass. They don’t worry about not getting their fair share of attention from those men either. They are spiritually mature enough not to need constant coddling.
On the other hand, there might very well be a few uglies underground, roiling the waters, attempting to stir up controversy and dissatisfaction. They often disguise themselves as earthworms, “just trying to make people think,” “playing Devil’s Advocate so we can get a helpful dialogue going.” Those sorts of dialogues need a carefully chosen audience. Instead of being careful of the babes who may not be ready for such a discussion, they are often actively seeking to turn their vulnerable minds from the simple Truth of the Gospel toward themselves and their own pet beliefs. At best, they are careless of the souls of others. When the church must take its attention away from its mission of saving the lost in order to pander to the egos of the bitter and undo the carelessness of the inconsiderate, the Devil does indeed have an advocate, and he is in control. The more minions he has working underground, the fewer lost souls will be reached, and the fewer saved ones will make it to the end of the road.
Think about that the next time you have a conversation, either in the church or with a lost soul out in the world. What just reared its head above the soil line? Did it help a soul find the Lord, or did it raise antipathy toward the body for which Christ died? Whose side are you working for?
Now I beseech you brethren, mark those who are causing divisions and occasions of stumbling contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them. For they who are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own bellies, and by their smooth and fair speech, they beguile the hearts of the innocent, Rom 16:17,18.