Many seeds and plants are competing for space in the garden that is my inner being. I am full of wheat and weeds, each seeking to grow and reproduce itself. Self interests (reputation, comfort, security), for example, war against my ability to be used freely by my Father.
I”m thinking this morning about how becoming a cross-cultural missionary has clarified for me that every interaction has eternal significance. Every seemingly benign moment is an opportunity to be Christ’s ambassador and a witness to His reality and goodness.
We are gardens and seed scatterers. Jesus compared each person’s inner life to soil. In every interaction, seed is scattered into our soil and from our garden into that of the person we meet. We are receiving and scattering seed, both good and bad, every moment of our lives, in places of fair weather, places of stormy turbulence, places of warm sunshine and in places of cold darkness.
Jesus said that the fruit in one’s life will depend on both the quality of the receiving soil and the types of seed sown into that soil.
We are one of so many seed scatterers that the Father uses to “seed” the garden that is each person’s life. We determine no one’s eternal destiny (even if we introduce Jesus to them and they then surrender to Him). Our Father has scattered so much seed in them over many years through many people and circumstances. We “save” no one but the seed we scatter might be used by our Father in HIS drawing them into HIs kingdom.
In order to scatter good seed, our garden must grow good seed. In order to have a Kingdom impact on the world around us, we must tend to our soil, allowing good seed to sprout (placed there by our Father’s scatterers – people, circumstances, and the Holy Spirit directly). How are we tending to our soil? Are we humble and teachable, and ready to receive from HIm? Are we dying to this world and its pursuits (success, esteem, comfort, power, pleasure) so that the good seed planted in us will not be choked but will germinate and bear fruit? Are we weak, broken, empty, needy and ready for seed like the freshly plowed field? Are we ready to be poured out in the manner of His choosing?
Like on a plot of natural ground, there are seeds blowing, dropping, and being carried in, from many sources, every day. Good seed as well as weeds that will suck the nutrients from the soil without producing usable fruit. In earthly fields and in our inner life, weeds are only good for producing more weeds whereas good plants produce fruit that will feed and benefit others. Have you noticed that weeds dominate in poor soil on natural ground?
Seed is being scattered in us and we are scattering seed all the time.
As parents, every interaction (spoken and unspoken) with our kids plants healthy or unhealthy seeds in their soil. Our seeds may instruct, wound, encourage, edify, challenge, discourage, etc. Some of these seeds will sprout immediately, some years later, some never. What is modeling but the scattering of seed?
As spouses, every interaction plants seeds in the other’s soil. Our seeds can build up or tear down, and can communicate love, hate, or indifference (this is often the most deeply wounding). These seeds may germinate immediately, soon, later or never.
We are scattering seed in every interaction with every person we encounter. I wish I realized this more in my life in the U.S. before becoming a missionary.
Several things must be remembered about our seed scattering.
- Seeds are small. Most of the seeds that we scatter are small things. Our greatest impact will be in the little things that we say and do for people. Every little action or word (positive and destructive) might find fertile soil or lie dormant.
- If we scatter good seed into a particular field for a time and see nothing germinate, it is wise to evaluate this and consider seeking fertile fields. We would be wise to, as best we are able, seek fertile ground (hungry, humble, receptive, etc) in which to scatter our seed. Jesus spoke of pearls and pigs…
- We are responsible for the type and the quality of the seed that we scatter. As a dandelion cannot produce an acorn, we scatter what we are. Others will learn genuine love for Jesus if we genuinely love Jesus. If we are Christian actors (emphasizing outward performance), we will produce actors. If we are superficial, we will not see depth in those who receive our “seed” (what we model). If we lead in a controlling manner…
- The germination and growth of the seed are not the responsibility of the seed scatterer. We can become discouraged when we see little results for our labor, words, and prayers. These results, however, are not in our control and we can do much harm trying to control or even care too much about the results. Picture the farmer trying to pull on a young plant in order to encourage growth. Imagine the frustration in the farmer who sits day and night over his seeds, watching for growth.
How much harm is done in the name of caring when we are this farmer, the “mother hen”, not allowing those we love the freedom to mature, to learn, and to grow at their own rate and in their own way? We must scatter healthy seed and trust it’s care to the receiver and to their Father who loves them more than we do. We honor our Father when we release those we love to His care. We must operate in love AND wisdom in caring for our children and those we mentor and lead. When we hold them too tightly, we actually impede the maturing process that we desire to see in them. This “smothering” feels good to the giver (“I’m helping them”) but it actually communicates lack of confidence and respect. Love considers what is best for the beloved, not what feels better for the one loving. With our Father, we must frequently evaluate the seed that we are scattering.
We are seed scatterers, every moment. We are even scattering seeds in our own minds and hearts by what we allow into our own soil, what we think about, and what emotions and desires we feed. John Bunyan said that we have five gates to our soul that we must constantly monitor, or five ways that our soil can be either fortified or weakened. He called these the Ear Gate, Eye Gate, Nose Gate, Feel Gate, and Mouth Gate and nothing can come in through these gates to help or hurt us unless we allow it through.
Let us remember this Kingdom reality today. Let us tend to our soil and keep it ready for seed, let us garden our seed (allow good seed to grow; weed out the bad), and let us remember that we are constantly scattering the seed that grows within us, affecting every moment the fields and gardens around us. Let us scatter seed that encourages, edifies, and glorifies our Father in heaven. As we do, we will be more effective in all of our interactions in planting life, love, and the Kingdom in those that God brings our way.
Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters his seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens…. Mk 4:26-29
I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together for the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field… I Cor 3:6-9
Sowing and reaping is a Kingdom reality. Gal 6:7
There is no value in continuing to give that which is not received (pearls and swine, good seed and rock-hard path).