Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. [2 Corinthians 9:6 (NLT)]
In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable of the four soils: the packed soil along the footpath where the birds steal the seeds, the rocky soil that doesn’t allow deep roots, the soil in which the thorns crowd out the seeds, and the fertile soil in which the seed grows, matures and bears fruit. He compares those soils to the ways God’s message is received by various people. Rather than looking at that story from the viewpoint of the soil or hearer of the word, however, let’s look at it from the viewpoint of the farmer—the sower of the seed of God’s word.
Having seen trees growing out of the sides of mountains and wildflowers peeking up through cracks in the sidewalk, I know that seeds can take root in the most unlikely places. As for those seeds on the footpath, what if someone’s boot pressed some deep in the ground so that the birds couldn’t eat them? As for those birds—some seeds may yet sprout if deposited by the bird in a more inviting environment. In fact, passing through the belly of an emu actually helps to germinate the seeds of an Australian plant with the wonderful name of Snottygobble (Persoonia nutans).
As for the shallow rocky soil—leaves could fall on it, decompose, and add nutrients and depth to the soil while rain might keep the plants from withering and dying. As for the thorny weeds—what if someone came along and did some weeding or hungry goats or pigs (who apparently like thorny vines) passed by and ate the weeds? Even in good soil, some seeds might never grow, but others could lie dormant for a number of years until conditions were optimal for them to sprout. Needing the heat from a fire for their seeds to germinate, the Lodgepole Pine and the Eucalyptus may wait decades before sprouting.
We’d think the synagogue in Jesus’s hometown of Nazareth would have been fertile ground for Him, but it wasn’t. His message there ended with a furious mob wanting to kill him! Yet, in the unlikely soil of the Samarian city of Sychar, Jesus met a woman of questionable morals who realized He was the Messiah and brought the village’s people to see Him. The city of Corinth, with its cults of Egyptian, Greek and Roman gods, temple to Aphrodite, 1,000 prostitutes, and reputation for drunkenness and debauchery would hardly seem to be fertile soil and yet the Apostle Paul planted a church in it. Indeed, God’s word can take root in the most unlikely places.
When we sow seeds or spread God’s word, there’s no way to determine which seeds or testimonies will eventually take root and grow. Moreover, sometimes those seeds or words may remain in suspended animation until the right conditions for growth occur. Our job as the farmers in God’s kingdom is simply to continue sowing those good seeds whenever and wherever we can; eventually, some will fall on fertile soil! God will take care of the harvesting and sorting when the right time comes.
It’s what you sow that multiplies, not what you keep in the barn. [Adrian Rogers]
Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. … Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’” [Matthew 13:24,30 (NLT)]
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