Our last study was on the book of Luke. I learned so much! One week in particular, God really spoke to me through the reading. We were reading Luke chapter 8, which contains a story that is very familiar to me.
"4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."
I have heard this story so many times. Usually the emphasis is "we need to be the good soil and yield a crop for Jesus." But as I read through this passage again, a different picture came to my mind.
Think of a farmer sowing seeds. He depends on the seeds for his living, so he's not going to just carelessly toss them out anywhere. He wants them to fall on good soil, so before he sows his seeds, he invests time and energy into preparing the soil. He breaks up the hard ground, removes the rocks, pulls up the weeds, and even adds fertilizer to the soil to feed his crops.
Good soil doesn't happen on it's own.
It takes effort to prepare it and work to sustain it before it can produce anything. As Christians, this is our job. We can't just go around halfheartedly sharing our faith and hoping it "sticks" to those we come in contact with. We must be intentional.
Sharing our faith must be more than just wearing a t-shirt or posting a scripture on facebook. Not that these things are bad, they are, as people often say, "planting a seed." But if that's all we do, what are the chances of those seeds growing into anything more? How do we keep those seeds from being lost to the birds, rocks, and thorns of life? How do we help them grow?
We help them grow through relationship, through connection, and through love. Verse 15 says "...by persevering produce a crop". I love the definition I found for persevere at dictionary.com "to bolster, sustain, or uphold". This requires outside assistance. Good soil can't make itself good, nor can seeds that are sown grow and produce a crop on their own. Someone must continue to tend them and help them reach their potential.
We need to be there for people when they need us. We need to love those around us and invest our time into their lives to build relationships. We need to know when they're hurting and when they are struggling and love them through it. We need to celebrate with them and cheer them on. This is how good soil is developed. This is how the seeds grow and produce a crop.
Lord, help me to go beyond the surface in sharing my faith. Show me how I can love the people you bring into my life like you love them. I pray that the seeds that are sown will fall on good soil and will produce a crop of souls who will come to know who you are by what they see in me. Thank you for your love for me that teaches me how to love.