Sowing the Seed or Landscaping?
Jesus taught the parable of the sower and soils in Luke 8:5-15. He also explains the meaning. Jesus talked about a sower who sowed seed. The seed is the word of God. The sower was just to spread that seed. Some seed fell on fertile ground, and it grew and produced fruit. Much seed fell on soil that did not produce the desired result. Some soil was wayside and was too hard for the seed to penetrate, like those with hard hearts who will not receive the word. Some soil had rocks and had no room for a root system to develop, like people who hear but immediately fall away because their faith does not have depth to endure temptation. Some soil had thorns that choked out the plant, like those whose faith is stolen away by worldly cares. In all this that the sower is still just to keep sowing.
When we teach others, we all hope that the word of God will fall on honest and good hearts. We hope those we try to lead to Christ will hear, believe, obey, and be faithful forever. It may be sometimes though, that we decide to landscape, instead of sowing the seed. What is the difference?
Sowing the seed is just simply teaching any and all who will listen. Landscaping is designing things to look exactly as WE think they should. We think, “this person would be a great friend to have in the church, I’ll teach them.” It may be that we see a person who would not have to make much of a change to be a Christian. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look for good prospects. We must be careful that we do not bypass honest seekers, while we pursue those we have judged to be worthy of hearing the gospel message.
We may pre-judge people as to who will obey and who will not. We have no way to know who will receive the word or what kind of heart they have. “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11). We must be committed to just sowing the seed and it will fall on many hearts, some good; and some wayside, stony, and thorny.
We may try to find someone to teach who looks like us, is in the same economic class as we are, lives in a nice neighborhood, is of the same race/culture that we are, drives a nice car, is easy to talk to, and already lives a moral life. We may bypass those who are troubled, poor, dirty, of a minority, religiously confused, and morally corrupt. Our thinking is that one will obey, while another will not.
Take time to consider those Jesus taught. They were often troubled. Some were mired in sin. Some were poor and some were rich. Who would have chosen fishermen to become fishers of men? Which one of us would have picked Saul, one who was a violent persecutor, and made havoc of the church. The gospel can transform people in ways that we cannot imagine!
Let us just sow the seed, teach all who will hear. We must be ready to welcome all who will hear and obey. God gives the increase!