I was scattering seed my mother collected from the marigold flowers I had planted the year before. Planting these flower seeds – seeds which could have zero viability – was last on the list before I wrapped up hours and hours spent in her garden. I sowed them in a hurry.
What do you reap when you sow bad seed? Absolutely nothing but disappointment. Nothing will grow when you plant dead, rotted, or diseased seed. And even if something does pop up, you won’t reap a harvest from your work, if you plant bad seed in the garden.
Seeds of Eternal Value
In Luke 8, Jesus compared the word of God to seed in The Parable of the Sower. An earthly concept of sowing and reaping also applies to what eternity holds. If we sow Scripture in our lives, then we will reap heavenly things. If we sow in our hearts a true understanding of the gospel – of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice – then we will reap an eternity with him, our Savior.
However, if we sow things that have no regard to the word, then we are merely wasting our time. Seeds of sin will have no sprouts and no fruit – absolutely no eternal value – for believers. As a Christian, you have the assurance that Jesus’ sacrifice paid for your sins: you won’t pay for them yourself because you are saved by his grace through your faith. However, for those who remain unbelievers, the seeds of sin they’ve sown will have devastating eternal consequences.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:7-9, ESV)
As believers, this hope of the promise to reap what we sow should inspire us to draw closer to Jesus and be intentional with our time here on earth. While we rejoice in this truth, we also must not forget there is a calamitous harvest waiting in eternity for those who haven’t given their lives to Christ: one that we all deserve, yet don’t have to endure if we simply accept Jesus as Lord.
Scripture Isn’t Germinating
My mom’s garden has some of the most difficult soil to work with. I’ve been amending it the past few years, but it isn’t quite where I want it to be. I’ve planted well-established tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers, yet they croak after a few weeks in the Arkansas dirt.
Scripture is good seed: sometimes it’s not the seed that’s bad, it’s the soil you’re planting in that causes your plants to perform poorly. In The Parable of the Sower, Jesus carefully categorizes unbelievers in three groups. These three distinguishes all have one thing in common – they rejected the Word. As followers of Jesus, understanding these types of unbelievers can help us to cater our witness to their needs, and help us fulfill the Great Commission.
- Luke 8:12 – The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. (ESV, emphasis added)
- Notice how these unbelievers have had the word sown in their lives – they’ve heard the good news of the gospel – but they didn’t receive it right away. Their hearts are not opened to the Lord, and as a result, the enemy takes away what the believer has sown in them.
- Are we continuously sharing truth with people who’ve heard but not yet received, who could’ve let those “seeds” slip away? Or have we given up on them?
- Luke 8:13 – And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. (ESV, emphasis added)
- God uses repentance and faith to change our hearts and sanctify us by his grace. This group of unbelievers grabs onto the gospel right away – they’ve got the faith part down, but they’re missing the true repentance. Their heart, like a rock, is hard; and the root of repentance can’t grow into the depths of their soul. A heart that refuses change will not have access to God’s strength to overcome trials. A heart without true repentance belongs to an unsaved soul.
- Are we communicating the importance of repentance, or does our witness lack the message of turning from sin to trust in and submit to Jesus?
- Luke 8:14 – And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. (ESV, emphasis added)
- This group is too caught up in earthly desires and idols to understand God’s goodness and realize he is the only one who can truly satisfy their souls. Their works have no eternal value because their sin brings ruin to the crop – the only fruit that will be worth anything in eternity is that which is grown by Christ’s power alone.
- Does our witness give God alone the glory for all that we do? Are we communicating that apart from God our deeds are meaningless? Or are we not communicating the importance of eternity to this group?
The Believer’s Heart
The secret to a successful garden is good seed and high quality growing media. Jesus gave us three groups of unbelievers and answered why some people reject the gospel. But because of God’s unmatched unfathomable grace and faithfulness, he provided an option to belong to the fourth group he described: the believers, the good soil.
- Luke 8:15 – As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. (ESV, emphasis added)
- God puts the desire to know him in our hearts – but it is those who come to him in faith that has the heart he saves by his grace. When we hold onto that desire from him, we will seek him and find him and desire him more: a constant cycle. As we stand firm in our faith, we will bear fruit, and grow in our sanctification.
- Do we as believers treasure Scripture – do we hold it fast in our hearts? Are we submitting to Christ and growing closer to him as time goes by?
As believers, we have the good seed and the good soil. But we are called to do more than keeping these seeds for ourselves – we are called to share them with others. God has entrusted Scripture with us, and to scatter it mindlessly would be an insult to its viability. Only God knows the exact terrain of each heart we meet – but he prescribed the same seed for every kind of soil. We must be diligent in sowing these seeds, no matter if the soil appears to be rocky grounds or brand new potting soil.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV)
I hope you choose to sow the seeds of eternity, both in the lives of those around you and in your own: for it is God’s promise that his word will produce a plentiful harvest (Isaiah 55:11). Let us not grow weary while waiting for the promise to be fulfilled, but continue to trust our good God. Take your time while sowing Scripture – it is much better seed than last year’s marigolds and deserves your special care.