Jesus referred to the fact that the Jews often divided the books of the Old Testament into three groups: the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44). In each of those three divisions, we read about the concept of sowing seed (Deuteronomy 22:9; Amos 9:13; Psalm 126:5,6).
Perhaps, though, our Lord’s “Parable of the Sower” is the seed-sowing passage with which we are most familiar. In that story, Jesus told of a sower that went forth to sow seed (Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8). When Jesus explained that parable (“The Sower”), He said, “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). The thought is evident, is it not? When Jesus spoke about a sower sowing seed, then explained that the seed is God’s word, then it follows that the action of the sower sowing seed symbolizes or represents a person sowing or teaching the word of God. As we think about proclaiming the gospel to every person in the whole world (Mark 16:15), what are some principles of seed sowing that we should keep in mind?
First, while it is true that seed can at times produce fruit without humans sowing it, the best crops come when humans purposely sow. It is possible that a watermelon seed could be spilled out of a container, fall on the ground, and eventually produce fruit. In the same way, a person that has never met a Christian could read the Bible and afterwards contact us, coming to us with a heart that already knows the truth and wants to obey it. It is possible. But, for the most part, if we do not sow the seed, there will be no spiritual harvest. Zero sowing results in zero harvest. Brother, how much have you sown the seed this year? Sister, have you been a sower, or just a listener? A sower sows. Do you?
Second, generally speaking (there may be limited exceptions), the more sowers we have sowing, the better opportunity we have for a bigger harvest. That is true on an assembly line in a factory: more workers have the potential to get more work done. That is true when it comes to sowing literal seed in a literal field, and it is true when teaching the gospel. Did not our Lord talk about the need for more workers in order to bring in His harvest? (Matthew 9:37,38). If we really want to see more people saved, then we need to be making a diligent effort to train more seed sowers! (2 Timothy 2:2).
Third, sowing is work. Sometimes it can even be quite challenging labor. Whether you work to sow seed in a garden or large field, it can be a sweaty job that takes its toll on your body. Teaching the gospel is work, too. It is not a drudgery or burden, but it involves labor, sometimes labor that faces serious trials. Often the seed is sown on hard soil and Satan comes and takes the word out of a person’s heart, lest he should believe and be saved (Luke 8:5,12). Remember, my seed-sowing brother or sister, our task is not to jump into the body and mind of our prospects and obey the gospel in their stead, rather our role is to sow, sow, sow! God told Isaiah to preach His word, even when stubborn people would ignore it. For how long? “Until the cities are laid wasted and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man . . .” (Isaiah 6:11). We are comforted to read later in that same great book that God’s word will not return unto Him void (Isaiah 55:11).
Fourth, sometimes we sow seed and do not see immediate fruit/results. James pointed to the farmer that sows and then patiently waits for the precious fruit (James 5:7). The great, great majority of people never obey the gospel. A few obey it quickly (Acts 16:25-34), but for most that become Christians, it is a longer process. Sometimes, it takes years, even several decades. We must keep on sowing patiently. In many instances it is a “combo” effort that eventually results in a conversion: multiple saints, working at different times and different ways to sow the seed to the same prospect(s). One “sows” and another “reaps” (John 4:35-38). And, one great God deserves every bit of the glory for each saved person!
Fifth, if we sow good seed with ineffective methods, then the harvest will be adversely affected. It is a fact that where skilled workers have trained farmers in backward places to learn and utilize more efficient methods, their harvest has increased. In the spiritual realm, if the circumstances remain unchanged and we continue to use the same methods, then we will keep on getting the same results. It is possible to do a whole bunch of sowing and get little, if any, harvest (Deuteronomy 28:38). In many situations, the lack of harvest is not the sower’s fault – the soil is terrible – hard hearts will not receive the truth (Mark 6:6). But, we also need to evaluate our seed-sowing efforts. If we can find some way to enhance our teaching efforts, all the time teaching the same pure gospel, then let us not be afraid to explore other means of communicating the truth. If we become aware of more effective means of seed sowing, let us be wise enough to use them.
Sixth, and this one really weighs on my heart, if we do not train the next generation how to sow, then they will not sow effectively. And, if that happens, unless there are a lot of babies born into Christian families, then the church will wither and die. I do not like the sound of that, do you? God’s plan for church growth and spiritual stability is not physical reproduction, but spiritual! (1 Peter 1:22,23).
“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5,6).
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.