The heart determines the harvest
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.” NIV
“A sower went out to sow….” Jesus had this incredible way of revealing the most profound truths in the simplest of statements. And I think we do Him great injustice when we reduce the profound truths that He revealed into mere stories without mining it for all its worth, and it is worth very much to those who take the time to plunge its depths and learn its lessons. The amazing thing is that each one who presses in to discover its truths receives fresh revelation, fresh to themselves if not to others, a different emphasis perhaps while still maintaining the integrity of the whole. That is the wonder and awe of the Word of God, and a joyous experience to those who journey its paths.
“A sower went out to sow….” Everything that is needed for the seed to reproduce itself is contained within the seed no matter its size. It will produce after its own kind and according to the DNA stored within it. It may be small and fragile, but if handled with care it can go on to produce a mighty harvest or become a mighty tree. The end result is nothing like the beginning. How high will it grow? As high as it can. How productive will it be? As productive as it can. Seeds, you see, are designed to exhaust their full productive potential and be the best, the tallest, the biggest, the most productive they can be.
“A sower went out to sow….” What happens to the seed, whether or not it reaches the full potential for which it was created, depends ultimately on the soil that receives it. On hard and stony ground, it withers and dies and its potential is entirely lost. Among the thorns, its potential is strangled and stifled and it never gets to be all that it could be. And, of course, the seed that falls along the path and is devoured by birds is destroyed before it even has the chance to take root. Only the seed that falls on good soil takes root and grows and fulfils its purpose, accomplishes its destiny.
“A sower went out to sow.…” God Himself is sowing the seed of His truth upon the world in Christ. The seed is not merely a message or a collection of divine truth but Christ Himself, and it contains in itself the full and explosive power of God to create in the soul of man the life of God, as the seventeenth century Scottish minister, Henry Scougal, put it. All the potential for change, for growth, for harvest, for fulfilling our destiny and our purpose, for living a full and fruitful life is contained in the seed that is Christ.
“A sower went out to sow….” The soil is the hearts of men. The heart that is hard and unresponsive to Christ withers apart from Christ; such a man never goes on to accomplish his purpose. He may do much or little with his life but without the life of God in the soul of man, he never becomes all that he was created for, never goes on to fulfil his destiny. The man with a heart so preoccupied with the things of this world despite receiving Christ, never gives himself the opportunity to reach his true potential in Christ. He may be a Christian but he is a pale shadow of Christ. Others reject Christ without even hearing the message; their hearts are closed, their minds are made up. In their wisdom they have become foolish and so put themselves beyond the pale of the voice of God.
“A sower went out to sow….” The man that receives the Word and allows Christ to take root in his heart is alone destined to be all that God created him to be. As he yields to Christ, Christ is formed in him. The seed grows. It puts down roots. The stem shoots out. Leaves take shape. In time a tree stands where once a seed was planted, a planting of God.
“A sower went out to sow….” The world may see the man of God as a mighty oak or a lowly shrub, but there is in him the life of God in the soul of man, and it forever sets him apart. To him is open all the fullness of life, for the full potential of God in Christ now resides in him. He can go as far as he desires.
“A sower went out to sow….” The man of God can go as far as he desires. He can grow as high as he wishes, become as productive as he wishes – as much as he has faith for. He can produce a crop a hundred, sixty or thirty times – it’s all up to him!
My sense is that God is telling us that the response of the heart and the attitude of the mind will determine the outcome of the harvest – how far we go, how high we climb, how fruitful we become, how successful we will be in accomplishing our God-given purpose and calling.
“He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others – not because He has favorites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition.” ~ C.S Lewis