And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
Part of the key to this man’s rest-and-work rhythm was observing the growth. The man didn’t pretend to understand how the growth was happening. This is important because so much of our Christianity can be consumed asking, “How is the growth happening?” We go to conferences and events, we listen to messages and podcasts, and so much of our Christian content can be centered around man trying to figure out how this seed works. A lot of time can be wasted in the church by analyzing the seed rather than scattering the seed. Our mission is to make disciples of all nations—baptizing them in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and sow the Gospel into their lives. Instead, we are debating “seed theories.” Sure, we need to be wise, and we need to learn—but if all our time as a church and as believers is spent on trying to be clever and trying to figure out how the seed works, we will waste precious time that should be designated to getting the good news into people’s lives.
The man didn’t pretend to know how the seed was growing all by itself, but he did notice the growth. Two things he noticed: first, he noticed that there was growth, meaning what he sowed was working. How it was working, he couldn’t be bothered with; but he was going to be bothered if he saw no growth. If there is no growth in our lives in the things of Christ, we should revisit if we truly sowed the seed. Did we assume we sowed the seed? Was it truly the Gospel that we sowed or a message of human effort? If there is no growth, we should be bothered—bothered enough to get back out into the field of our hearts and our friends’ hearts, to sow the Gospel. If we are not seeing generosity—or kindness, or love, or patience—growing, we might need to check the soil of our hearts to ensure that we have received His word with humility.
The second thing he noticed was that the growth was not overnight, meaning the plant grew over time—first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. We should see growth, but it doesn’t mean everything is fully grown overnight. Growth in the kingdom happens as a process. The Gospel will grow and bring transformation in our cities and our lives, but it is never a quick fix or an overnight success. It takes time, but it will happen.
Don’t be discouraged if there are still areas in your life that seem unfinished. Do you notice any growth? Do you notice a little green blade coming out of the ground? Celebrate that the seed is working. If you see any growth, you can be encouraged that the seed, the Gospel, this grace of His Kingdom, is working in your life. You don’t need to dig up the plant out of frustration. The devil wants you to feel discouraged and, out of fear, begin to stamp on your growth. He wants you to belittle your little growth. The enemy wants you to compare your growth to a full-grown plant or a person next to you and cause you to rip out your seedling. Resist the devil, and he will flee from your field of righteousness. Drive out the birds of the air which only come to steal your growth; birds of condemnation and guilt that tell you that your growth is insignificant. Drive the enemy away with the sharp sickle of God’s word.
Be encouraged if you have seen that inside-out growth. Be encouraged if your heart is strangely warmed by worship. Be encouraged if you have begun to see your fellow human beings with love and kindness. Be encouraged if you are a little more patient. Whatever your growth is, be encouraged for what was sown in seed is now the beginning of a harvest.
// Pastor Josh Kelsey