Recently I’ve been attending (ok, only twice) a mens small group at the Vineyard Church of Wellsboro. It has been such a blessing!
Our text last week was the parable of the sower, from Mark 4:7-20
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed.4As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it.5Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.6But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died.7Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain.8Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”9 Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
10 Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant.
11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret[a] of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders,12so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:
‘When they see what I do,
they will learn nothing.
When they hear what I say,
they will not understand.
Otherwise, they will turn to me
and be forgiven.’[b]”
13 Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables?14The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others.15The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away.16The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.17But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.18The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word,19but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.20And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
I know that was a long chunk, but it’s such a good passage. I’ve always read this parable as being about Christians and non-Christians and how we accept the Word of God and what we allow His word to do in our lives, and while that’s true, I believe there is more to the passage.
As you probably know, if you’re a regular to the blog, I have a pretty strong sense of right and wrong. I’m passionate about what I believe, sometimes to a fault. Sometimes my need to be right gets the best of me (ok, ok a lot of times). I feel a strong need to convince people of the “error of their ways” when I really feel like something they think or believe doesn’t seem to line up with God’s truth, revealed in the Bible. I really do try to do it in the nicest way possible, but sometimes I fail.
A couple times last week I ran into situations where I felt the need to defend my beliefs until the bitter end. One conversation turned out ok. The other, not so much. In my stubbornness I may have done more harm than good. It’s hard to say.
I get especially stubborn when it comes to spiritual / moral / Biblical issues. Don’t we all to an extent?
Anyway, I went on that little tangent because it relates to the sower parable.
It struck me during our mens group last week that not only does the soil metaphor apply to the acceptance of God’s word and salvation, it also applies to the acceptance of spiritual / moral / Biblical truths and principles. The parable simply mentions sowing the seed, not watering it, not trying to care for it and “force” it to grow. None of those things. Just sowing the seed. Just spreading the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just sharing our beliefs and thoughts on different topics, without ramming them down people’s throats. Not making fancy pants arguments until we’re blue in the face and we’ve finally convinced someone of the “error of their ways.”
Now, I’m not saying that as a cop out for not sharing the Truth with people – far from it. It’s more of just a heads up that people are at different points in their life and the journey that God has them on. There will be different levels of acceptance. Different issues that must be dealt with. The rocky soil isn’t going to see things the way the thorny soil does, and the thorny soil isn’t going to see things the way the good soil does.
Like it or not, that is reality. I found myself so incredibly frustrated and wiped out last week because I was trying to make that figurative seed take root and grow in places it just wasn’t going to grow at that given moment. And that was a hard concept for me to accept. I may have been better off moving to other soil and planting there rather than trying to win. I forgot for a moment (or two) that it wasn’t my job to make that seed grow. Besides, I couldn’t even if I tried. Only God through the Holy Spirit can make the seed of truth grow in someone. All I can do is plant and share, plant and share, plant and share. It’s on Him to make it grow.
Moral of the story – keep sowing, keep spreading the truth, keep loving people where they’re at – honor them even, keep being the light God has called you to be. It won’t be easy – trust me on that one. You’ll make some enemies along the way, I guarantee it. People will say things about you that are flat out not true, and it will hurt, and you’ll want to stop speaking up – don’t. You’ll forget that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, and you’ll have to force yourself to remember. Remember, Jesus made the religious leaders of His day so mad, they ended up having Him killed. Should we be surprised when sharing the Truth creates a few enemies for us?
I’ll leave you with a passage from Galatians 6:7-10:
Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 9So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.