|Listen to the Bible|
Thoughts and Commentary on today's reading:There are times when it is most difficult to choose one pop-out concept, because more than one thing stands out, in a personally meaningful way, from the day's Scriptures. Today is one of those days. For a while, it was a toss up because delving into the elements of God's blessing upon Abraham (Abram) and the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-15). But, because the Parable of the Sower has so often been a personal encouragement to me, I finally settled upon it as being the topic I would share.
All Christians, by virtue of belonging to the Heavenly King, are called into missionary service. We may not leave our homeland and go overseas to accomplish this calling, but we are called nonetheless.
There are many joys in this calling to labor for the salvation of souls. There are also many hardships. For me, one of the greatest hardships to endure is the lack of lasting interest in the Truth. So little of the spiritual Seed of Truth seems to lastingly take root in lives. It can be so discouraging! But, for these times, the beautiful Parable of the Sower helps to keep things in perspective and remind me of my God-given responsibility.
"....Freely ye have received, freely give." Matthew 10:8
The seed, in this story, represents the pure, true Word of God. It is powerful, vital and life-changing - if it is allowed to take root in the heart of the hearer.
The sower, in a personal sense, represents you and me. We are given the Gospel Commission to go into all the world and spiritually sow the Seed of Truth. But while the Seed is good and the sower is dedicatedly doing his part, there is a problem in the story - a point of failure. This problem is that there is no guarantee that the sower will get all the Seed on receptive and good ground. In fact, in the story, only 1/4 or 25% of the time does the sower get the Seed on good ground, where it grows up and bears Kingdom Fruit. That leaves a 75% rate of failure! 75%! We'll come back to that part at the end...
Some of the Seed falls on people who are represented by the rocky ground. These folks hear the Truth and receive it - initially - but they fail to study the Bible for themselves, allowing for the development of a deep and sustaining root system in the Word of Truth. Not having the necessary root system, when the scorching sun of trials and temptations hit such a person, the small plant of growing obedience withers and dies. The person falls away from the Truth he/she has formerly embraced.
Some of the Seed falls on thorny ground. This is a representation of people who have competing affections. They love God and they love His Truth, so at first the Seed is well-received by them. But they have many earthly concerns also. These areas of competing affection are the weeds which spring up and choke out the developing plant of new life in the Truth.
The third part of the Seed falls by the wayside. And almost as quickly as it falls, the birds swoop in and snatch up the Seed. In the blink of an eye, it is gone from this ground. The wayside with its thieving birds symbolizes people who hear the Truth, but before they can study it or even start to settle into it at all, the birds of "naysayers" swoop in and snatch away the Seed. These "naysayers" say things like, "Oh, you don't want to get involved in THAT idea!" Or "if THAT were True, our religious leader would believe it. But because he doesn't, you can be sure that you shouldn't worry yourself about studying THAT teaching."
Oh the terrible and frustrating birds! How tempting it is for a sower to drop his Seed sack, pick up a stick and start running after those noxious birds!
Whack! Whack! Whack! We counter one false argument after another. Maybe a few birds drop some of the Seed and fly off a bit to regroup. But they return... No amount of whacking can ultimately serve to save the Seed which has fallen on a pliable, wayside heart.
But, one thing was accomplished in the time it took to chase down the birds... It served to cause the sower to stop sowing the Seed!
"Oh dear, Heavenly Father! Clearly, the sower isn't called to stop sowing Your Seed even to go out bird-whacking!"
Finally, some of the Seed falls on good ground! The hearts are receptive. The Truth is heard, received, embraced, and retained! What joy is in a sower's heart - and the Heavenly Sower's Heart (Who is the One that is sowing the Seed through any of us) - that the Seed has found good ground at last!
But, for me, it has sometimes been tempting to just give up when I see people falling away from the Truth and failing to grow in it. I have cried over the rocks and weeds. I have even dropped the Seed and started futilely whacking at the birds. But, in those moments, my Heavenly Father reminds me of the powerful Message in the Parable of the Sower.
Christians are not called to root out rocks. Christians are not called to spray on spiritual "Round-up". Christians are not called to chase down birds. Christians are just called to sow the Seed. Sow on... Sow on... And we are to leave the results with God. It is only He Who can make a heart into Good Soil. And what about the low percentage of success? Well, the sower doesn't stop to consider his success rate either. Thankfully, there is plenty of Seed, in the parable. And there is plenty of spiritual Seed in the Word of God. We will not lack for Seed by sowing! And we must not grow discouraged at the 75%. Remember, there will be good fruit, from the good Seed, which does fall on good soil.
Don't be discouraged. Sow on...