Planting the Seeds for Growth
The Great Commission says:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Mathew 28:19-20.
This is what we are commanded to do. Jesus refers to our efforts as, “Sowing seeds.”
In Mathew 13, Jesus talks about the possible outcomes that we can experience as we sow our seeds and seek to make disciples of Christ. The first thing that He tells us is that many of our efforts will not be successful. Nobody would know this better than Jesus. Many people rejected the message when it came directly from Jesus, and many will reject our efforts also. But that cannot deter us from trying. Some of our efforts will be successful, and the angels rejoice over every soul that repents.
Luke writes about this in Luke 15:10:
“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus talks about four possible outcomes relative to sowing seeds:
- “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” Jesus refers to this as, “The one on whom seed was sown beside the road.” – Mathew 13:19.
- “The man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” Jesus refers to this as, “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places.” – Mathew 13:20.
- “The man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Jesus refers to this as, “The one on whom seed was sown among the thorns.” – Mathew 13:22.
- “The man who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” Jesus refers to this as, “The one on whom seed was sown on the good soil.” – Mathew 13:23.
Option #4 is the successful outcome that we all strive for. But we cannot succeed without be willing to fail.
There are three points to consider when we are sowing seeds to share the gospel and trying to make disciples of Christ.
- We are not alone in our efforts. What we plant, others will water. Ultimately it is God that provides the increase. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”
- Jesus is always with us. “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Mathew 28:20.
- It is not the size of the seed that determines its future growth. Sometimes small gestures can have a larger impact than big gestures. We should never underestimate God’s ability to provide growth. Every day we have opportunities to plant seeds. Maybe we reach out to somebody that needs a friend? Maybe we try to lift somebody’s spirits with a few words of encouragement? In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” - Mathew 13:31-32. Small seeds can go on to accomplish great things with God’s help.
We are blessed to have Jesus’ words to make us aware of what we are going to experience as we work to sow our seeds. Jesus wants to encourage us to keep sowing those seeds. What we plant, others will water, and God will provide the increase.
Here is a hypothetical example on 1 Corinthians 3 to help illustrate the point:
Joe is a man of faith who teaches Bible class at his local church. There is a student in his class named Christopher. Christopher is always in class, but Joe wonders if he is making a connection and how much Christopher is really retaining.
Joe understands his role. He wakes up every Sunday excited to teach the Bible to Christopher and the other students in his class. As he plants these seeds early in his student’s lives, he hopes that they will someday grow into mature followers of Christ.
Our hypothetical Bible student Christopher grows up but is not particularly strong in his faith. In High School Christopher joins the school’s football team where he meets Coach Rick. Rick is a strong man of faith and he does not hide it. Before every game and practice he brings the team together for a prayer. They form a circle, hold hands, and Rick leads them in prayer.
Christopher likes the feeling that he gets whenever he is around his teammates and especially Coach Rick. He notices how much Rick loves the players on his team and how he conducts himself. He does not curse, nor does he allow any cursing from his players. He takes the time to get to know everybody and is always interested about what is going on in their lives. Christopher looks up to Coach Rick. There is something special about him that Christopher respects. Christopher hopes that someday he can be like Coach Rick.
The seeds that Joe planted in Bible class many years ago are now being watered by Coach Rick.
GOD PROVIDES THE GROWTH:
Christopher is now all grown up and has a family of his own. He does not attend Church and has fallen on hard times. To try to dull the pain, Christopher begins drinking and neglecting his family. He falls into a deep depression and is feeling like a failure.
One day while doing some shopping, Christopher runs into an old teammate, Rob. He had not seen Rob in many years. Rob asks him how he is doing, and Christopher can hardly make eye contact with him.
Rob sees that Christopher is hurting and offers to buy him a cup of coffee so they can catch up. At the end of their talk, Rob invites Christopher to church with him. Christopher accepts the invitation and goes to church that Sunday with Rob.
Christopher loves being at church with Rob. It reminds him of the unity he felt when he played football on Coach Rick’s team in High School. Christopher begins attending church regularly and reading the Bible. As his faith grows, Christopher is baptized and begins teaching his own Bible class.
In this hypothetical example:
- Joe planted seeds when Christopher was a student in his Bible class.
- Coach Rick watered those seeds in High School when he coached his football team.
- Rob watered them again later in life by taking the time to listen to Christopher and inviting him to go to church with him.
- Throughout Christopher’s life, God was working behind the scenes to bring people into his life that would help Christopher along the way. When Christopher was ready, he made the decision to follow Christ.
God has a plan for all of us. He will give us opportunities to plant seeds and to water seeds that were planted by others. When we trust in Him and follow Him, He will lead us to where we need to be.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11.”
We will end today’s study with the encouraging words found in Galatians 6:9:
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
missionary of the month