Daily Readings: Genesis 33-34, Psalm 14, Matthew 13
“Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
-Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23
I could read the parable of the seed every day and it would still be valuable for me each and every time! I frequently need to hear these wise words for encouragement to keep making the effort to share Jesus with others. There can be so many times in life where it seems like the seeds we are scattering are falling along the path that Jesus spoke of. The folks we share with never fully grasp the good news. Sometimes there are folks who feel like they are the seeds on the rocky ground or the seed that fell amongst the thorns. It is so exciting right away when they seem truly engaged with the message you are sharing and want to learn more about giving their life over to Jesus! This is what evangelism is supposed to feel like!
Then they fall away quickly whether because of adversity or simply because of the priorities in life that they continue to place over a relationship with God. Their faith is either scorched by the sun or strangled by the thorns.
For me, these are even more frustrating than the folks that never truly connect with the message in the first place. These people I care about heard the good news and really embraced it! What happened?! Could have I done more? Is this my fault somehow?
In all of these moments Jesus wants us to remember his parable. He wants us to remember that our job as marketplace missionaries is to simply scatter as much seed as we possibly can! A lot of it is going to fall along the path, on the rocky ground, or amongst the thorns; and we cannot control that. However, many will fall on fertile ground!
The mistake we often make is taking a look at those seeds that did not find fertile ground and say to ourselves, “Maybe evangelism is just not my gift. Perhaps I am just not called to share the good news. I might just be better suited to _______.”
I have felt this way at many different points in life and I would argue that, in these moments, I am an example of the seed that fell on rocky ground. I am excited initially to share the love of Jesus with others, but as soon as I feel like I have failed a few times, my motivation burns up in the hot sun.
This is the other side of the parable that is always good for me to think about. How is the seed in my heart doing? If I were to ask Jesus today where my seed is at this moment, would he liken me to a seed that has fallen along the path, on the rocky ground, or amongst the thorns? Or would Jesus say that this seed he has planted is firmly planted in the fertile ground?
I love reading this passage because it always causes me to ask this question. It is a question worth asking on a daily basis in our world today. Regardless of how fertile the ground has been the last month, thorns can grow, and they can grow quickly! However, if we are constantly turning to Jesus and asking him, “What thorns am I allowing to grow up and choke out my faith?” he is a faithful gardener! He is always excited to help us do some serious weeding to get us back to the point where we can produce a crop of 30, 60, or 100 times what was sown!
Thought to ponder
Which seed have I been the last week? What, if anything, have I allowed to be a thorn in my life that has been working to choke out my faith?