#22: A Bumper Crop of Righteousness

Gardening is not my gift. I don’t have a green thumb on either hand! My best attempt involved a pre-seeded mat from Walmart, that promised a foolproof 10 x 4′ flower garden. The instructions said to simply roll the mat out on a patch of dirt, and water it twice a day until your lush garden appeared. I got a few sad, scraggly daisies, with a couple of yellow mums to cheer them up!

Jesus taught about a different kind of gardening (one I like much better): sowing the seed of God’s truth in the soil of people’s hearts.

Read Mark 4:1-20. (You’ll find the same story in Matthew 13:1-23 and Luke 8:4-15.)

Jesus was once again beside the Sea of Galilee, a favorite spot. A huge crowd had gathered, forcing Jesus to teach from a boat at the water’s edge. The seashore may seem a strange setting for a parable about farming, but these listeners knew all about sower, seed, and soil. They could easily picture the scene Jesus described.

They had a harder time grasping the parable’s meaning, and their own place in it. Jesus urged them to pay attention, to listen. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” He said. This was not just a sweet down-home story; it was deep truth, available to anyone willing to seek it. When His followers came to Jesus later begging an explanation, they were given the teaching they hungered for. (He still rewards those who earnestly seek Him; Hebrews 11:6 says that’s the kind of faith that pleases Him!)

Let’s look at the three major elements in the parable of the sower.

First, the seed. God’s Word is the seed, first quality, with potential for a huge crop. It needs a sower—someone to freely share it.

Second, the sower. Anyone who shares God’s message is a sower. The parable’s farmer spread seed with total abandon. He didn’t sow only where the seed was most likely to flourish. He threw seed everywhere—on rocky ledges, among weeds and thorns, on the path, and in the rich soil. Every inch of ground had its chance to receive seed, with no pre-qualifying.

Jenny is a pretty, energetic, outgoing Christian woman. It’s easy to picture her as the popular high-school cheerleader she once was. She says, “In high school, I knew people who were Christians. Not one of them ever talked to me about the Lord. Some have told me since, ‘We didn’t think you’d be interested.’ The truth was, I was dying to know.” Jenny is eternally grateful to the person who sowed the seed of the Word in her heart, who didn’t wait for her to show interest before sharing Christ with her.

The next time you hesitate to discuss Jesus with someone, thinking they wouldn’t want to hear, remember the sower—and remember Jenny. Cast your seed freely. The waiting soil may be more fertile than you think.

Third, the soil. Four types of ground are described: the hard path, the shallow soil over rocky ground, the thorn-infested soil, and the good, rich ground. Each represents a state of heart. Every human being who has ever lived is in the parable of the sower—including you and me. The question is, “Which soil describes my heart?”

Notice that three of the four soils have a degree of acceptance. The seed planted may even take root and show some growth. But only one bears fruit. Fruitfulness is the evidence of good soil.

What is fruit? Galatians 5:22-23 describes it. Does this list sound familiar? “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Those qualities show the Spirit of Jesus alive in us. The result is a bumper crop of righteousness in us and in those we influence.

Before bedtime tonight, review your day’s “fruitfulness.” Were you loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled? Or would a better description be irritable, unhappy, troubled, impatient, unkind, malicious, unfaithful, hard-hearted, and unrestrained? Make sure your heart is good soil, bearing a rich righteous harvest.

© Diane McLoud 2013

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