“Scatter Those Seeds”
Psalm 119: 105-112; Romans 8: 1-11; Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23
Pearl: Continue to always sow the seeds of the gospel kingdom of God without fear or discouragement over the results.
Function: To take inspiration from the God who made the farmer to motivate us in our tending and working for the sake of the gospel ministry of Jesus Christ.
A farmer, ragged and barefoot, was standing on the steps of his raggedy shack. A stranger stopped for a drink of water and he asked: “How is your cotton coming along?
Farmer: “Don’t have any.”
Stranger: “Did you plant any?”
Farmer: “Nope, afraid of boll weevils.”
Stranger: “Well, how is your corn?”
Farmer: “Didn’t plant any, afraid there wouldn’t be any rain.”
Stranger: “Well, how are your potatoes?”
Farmer: “Ain’t got any, scared of the potato bugs.”
Stranger: “Really, what did you plant?”
Farmer: “Nothing, I just played it safe.” (“Homiletics,” V. 26, n. 4, p. 21).
This farmer/sower was paralyzed by fear of all that could go wrong. His fears were not unreasonable. You could say he was afraid of failure.
Jesus told a story about a “Sower/Farmer who went out to sow.” The first step in living the gospel life is to venture out and scatter those seeds. Nature does this. I have a volunteer corn stalk growing up next to my driveway and I can’t wait to see if it produces some corn!
- You should not play it safe with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is meant to be taken out and scattered about. You cannot be afraid or discouraged about the prospect of failure.
- The sower in Jesus’ story went out scattering seeds all over the place. He threw it on shallow ground where the sun would bake it; he threw it on rocky ground where it would have difficulty putting down roots; and he threw it in thorny, weedy places where it would get choked out.
- An important message from this well-known parable is that 75% of the time the gospel work you do will yield absolutely nothing!
- That is a difficult pill to swallow in a world driven toward success. When results are expected and rewarded and failure is a red flag that something is desperately wrong, the Parable of the Sower is perplexing.
- There are many ways to look at this parable. Much is made of the places where the seeds are scattered. But since this is known as the Parable of the Sower and not the Parable of the Soil, take a lesson from the Sower today.
- This sower/farmer is like God who casts his loving gospel seeds anywhere and everywhere. He generously casts and scatters with reckless abandon. “Image-bearers of God” should likewise share with reckless generosity, with hopeful expectation, the gospel seed.
All the while that you do so, you can trust that God is tending to the seeds to give them growth.
The sower/farmer in Jesus’ story got mixed results. When you scatter seeds anywhere and everywhere you expect mixed results. I imagine this sower continued to scatter all over the place even though getting the same mixed results over and over.
- There are many things the church does which seem to be fruitless. Results seem minimal and actually often are minimal.
- The same people come back over and over asking for gas money.
- You give clothing to people month after month and you wonder whether anything will come of it.
- You teach children and youth week in and week out and you wonder if it is making any difference.
- You go to South Dakota and interact with a small group of people in proportion to the many living on the reservation. Amidst major problems of high unemployment, depression, alcoholism, and teen suicide, you wonder what difference you can really make.
- You get frustrated at the rate of success in ministry. You might even want to abandon a particular field. Nonetheless, God wants you to work on every field no matter the weeds, the soil, or the rocks.
- No matter the results, the sower/farmer kept on working, kept on trying, and kept on laboring, out of her gracious, hopeful heart.
- God, the faithful sower/farmer keeps working, keeps trying, keeps laboring, keeps scattering, never giving up, repeating, and working, out of a totally gracious, merciful, compassionate, and hopeful heart.
Jesus told this story of the Sower to encourage his followers down through the ages.
- Scatter everywhere. Take the gospel everywhere. Take it to everyone and anyone. Never shy away. Be ambitious. Do not discriminate where you might share the gospel good news. Do not be discouraged with failure.
- Trust God to give the growth: growth which you may never see in your lifetime.
- By all means work to improve the soil. You should make every effort to remove the rocks and stones. You should work the soil so it is not shallow and hard where the sun would ruin the seeds. You should removes weeds and thorns and anything that might strangle the growing gospel plants. You should do everything you can to prepare and enrich the lives of all of those you are led to serve.
- The church organizes and plans programs and ministries to make the conditions good for growth.
- Classes are designed, groups are formed, events are planned, and ministries are created in order to “make disciples and apostles.”
- After that you trust God to give the growth. You do not stop scattering, initiating, designing, creating, or imagining ways in which to scatter those seeds of the love of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God.
- After all the gospel seed is like no other seed!
- Psalm 119: 105 suggests to great value of the word: “Your word is a lamp to my feet.”
- The Spirit in you raised Jesus from the death to life (Romans 8: 11).
- After all the gospel seed is like no other seed!
During the Super Bowl in 2013, there was a Dodge Ram Truck commercial (which you did not pay attention to because the Ravens were playing the 49ers and they won 34-31) featuring a Paul Harvey speech which he gave in 1978 at the “Future Farmers of America” convention. His speech was a modern day Parable of the Sower which Christ-followers should imitate.
“And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.
“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait for lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it.” So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from ‘tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.” So God made a farmer.
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church.
“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.‘” So God made a farmer.”
Scatter those seeds, those gospel seeds of the kingdom of God. There will be plenty of failure, but some will take root and grow and multiply and bear fruit as well.
God is the farmer who made you to want more than anything else, to spend your lives “doing what God does!”