“A farmer went out to sow his seed . . .” (Luke 8:5a).
Christians are called to share their faith with others. The fields in which we sow the gospel are varied. Not all soil is the same. Jesus’ parable of the sower reminds us that in spite of the condition of the various grounds, sowing is to be done anyway. The soils represent the hearts of four kinds of seekers.
We have the greatest news there is to share with desperate souls living in not-so-quiet desperation. Some are so distracted by life that they aren’t even aware of their lost condition. Jesus said seekers would find. Those who aren’t seeking God may stumble across the good news by chance, but so many seem unable to grasp its significance when they do. Our Lord’s parable in Luke 8:5-15 is challenging for those of us who care for the lost. Let’s consider what Jesus taught us.
We scatter the seed of the gospel where we may. We don’t plant in rows as some farmers would. Thus, some of the seed, which is the Word of God, falls along the pathway. This pathway seeding involves those whose hearts are so distracted by Satan that they are unable to allow the seed to take root. The soil is too compacted from being trampled upon. The devil is able to take away the good news before it can even begin to do its job.
Countless souls have somehow developed hearts as hard as stone. They are able to be touched by the Word, even to the point of joy when hearing it. They are able to believe the wonderful news for a moment, but a simple wind of distraction will rob them of their brief joy. There is no way for the seed to grow in stony hearts.
Many are so consumed by the distractions of the world that their attention is not focused enough to seriously consider the loving Savior’s offer. Riches and pleasure are so ingrained in the minds represented by the thorns, that there is little room for any other distractions, even when it could transform their lives in every good way.
Fertile Soil Seeding
The good soil represents those whose hearts are good and noble. These souls are eager to do good and be good. When the life-changing Word is planted in these hearts, it immediately takes root and remains, producing a crop one hundred fold. If only we could find more of this kind of receptive spirit.
Evangelism involves planting the seed of the gospel in the hearts of whoever will listen. It is a plea to the lost directing them to the way of salvation. It is one beggar telling another where there is bread in abundance for every hungry soul. If we could only know what kind of soil we are seeding, it would be a great deal more enjoyable and yield a greater harvest. Yet even our Savior was rejected by the soils he seeded during his ministry.
Just what is our responsibility in sowing the seed of the kingdom? Are we to judge the soils before the seed is planted? Is it our place to decide where to sow and where to refuse? In some way we are not to cast our pearls before swine. It is not our place to attempt to force people to accept the good news. God never coerced; he only invited. That is our place, to offer invitations to the banquet knowing full well that most will refuse the grace extended them.
Father Knows Best
God is the one who will give the increase. If we are willing to do our part—sow the seed—the increase is promised. And it might even surprise us at times as to where the harvest will appear. Farmers don’t force corn to grow. They allow it to grow. After we do our work as sowers, God will send forth reapers to gather the harvest.
Joe was dynamic in his business pursuits. His personality was such that people were drawn to him and wanted to be his friend. Joe dropped into a church one Sunday morning. A thoughtful deacon gave him a visitor’s card to sign. A Bible study was arranged. Joe was gregarious enough to politely listen to the gospel presentation. He even promised to attend church gatherings now and then. The deacon who had conducted the Bible study was sadly discouraged when Joe never returned.
What kind of soil was Joe’s heart? We might never know, but it surely wasn’t the kind that was eager to receive the seed of the gospel.
Roberta was a fellow employee at the office where Joyce, an elder’s wife, was employed. The two frequently ate lunch together. When Joyce shared the gospel of Christ with Roberta over several weeks, there seemed to be a ray of interest on Roberta’s part. When Joyce invited Roberta to accept Christ as Lord, her invitation was met with a smile of joy and relief. Roberta was baptized the next Sunday. She was eagerly embraced by the members of that congregation. Yet within two months she was no longer present. Stony hearts do not allow the seed to take root. What did Joyce do wrong? Probably nothing.
Jackie was well dressed. Her nails and hair were always impeccable. She wore stylish clothes. Judy had met Jackie at a styling salon. Judy invited Jackie to her home for dinner and politely asked if Jackie was a believer in God. Jackie laughed and said, “Of course I am.” Judy was hoping to start a Bible study with Jackie. Sadly, there was no interest on Jackie’s part. She was more into nightclubs and gambling than anything spiritual. She was having an affair with a married man. What did Judy do wrong? Nothing at all. There was no fertile soil—only thorns.
Wayne arrived one Sunday looking a bit disheveled. His hair was uncombed and his clothing was not up to par for that well-groomed fellowship. The preacher asked Wayne if he would like to study the Bible. He gladly agreed. Within three weeks Wayne had obeyed the gospel and had led his wife to Christ. Wayne was a recovered drug addict. He came to a realization that if he didn’t change, he would lose his family if not his own life.
Wayne was tilled soil ready to take seed. He became a great soul winner himself and used the simple open Bible study method used by his preacher to lead scores of souls to the Lord. It challenged the well pressed congregation at first, but eventually he was embraced and loved beyond measure. Be gentle with new converts.
Just Do It
We are not professional agronomists. We aren’t asked to be. But we are called to share our faith with whomever we can wherever we can however we can. We sow. We water. God our Father gives the increase. Sow often. There is fertile soil. May we not be discouraged because three out of four types of ground will not yield fruit.
Steven Clark Goad has been senior minister with a church in Southern California for 30 years. He has authored twelve books and over 1500 articles in national and international religious journals, among them Christian Standard, The Lookout, Gospel Advocate, 21st Century Christian, Power For Today, The World Evangelist and others.