As a boy my mother could hardly drag me to her gardens to pull weeds. It’s amazing what a few years and personal interest can do to such an attitude. But anyone soon learns when tending a garden that there is the consistent need to both “weed” and “feed.” It soon becomes apparent to the one whose garden is free of weeds that he must also make the effort “to feed” if there is going to be fragrance and fruit in that garden. A clean garden is good but a clean and nourished one is even better.
It’s easy to see that the very same thing is essential in every assembly. Yet before the faithful shepherd considers others he remembers how Paul said to Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself,” (1 Tim 4:16), and, “Consider what I say” (2 Tim 2:7). Realizing his own failings he not only knows that the other saints have the need of “weeding” but he is careful how he goes about meeting that need. “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all.” (2 Tim 2:24). With equal recognition the overseer also seeks to feed his own soul. “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits” (2 Tim 2:6). And from such a nurtured soul he is well able to “feed” the hungry among God’s people. What a privilege it has been for those saints who have known what it is like to be “tended” by men of such a manner.
It is not surprising to note that in the New Testament, five of the ten references to “feed” are made where the believers are called sheep, lambs, or a flock. Yet perhaps the most thrilling reference is Revelation 7:17. There the prospect of Tribulation saints is one that we all will know: “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them.” The Lamb that will “feed,” will in that day see no need “to weed.”