I have a confession to make to you, Central Oaks. I sometimes (but not always) have certain people in mind when I teach and preach. I assure you, many times my motives are pure (sometimes they’re not, and wow do I need God’s grace!). I love you and want you to grow in the Lord and be more fruitful for His sake. So when I read a Scripture or think about how a sermon applies to you, the flock the Lord has entrusted to me, I remember your stories and long for God to bring resolution to a difficult situation or bring healing, or in some cases, bring restoration.
You might say I discriminate in my discipleship.
But here’s what I’m continually learning: the people God is working on are almost always different than the ones I am looking at to respond to that sermon or that teaching.
Consider Jesus’ teaching of the parable of the sower and the seed. In Mark 4 Jesus told of a sower who went to sow seed. He threw seed along the ground indiscriminately. It wasn’t his job to inspect the soil. It was his job to sow the seed. Later, beginning in verse 26 of the same chapter, Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a man who scatters seed on the ground but has no control over how it grows. Here’s how Jesus put it:
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, the the full grain in the ear.
It’s the same way when we share God’s Word to help someone either come to know Jesus or become more like Him. We have no real control over the success of the Word (the seed) we sow. It’s God who gives the spiritual growth that I long for in you, and that you long for in your family and neighbors.
I’m learning more and more not to discriminate in my discipleship. God calls me to sow the seed and watch Him work. As a friend reminded me once, I’m called to be a seed sower, not a soil inspector.
We all want our own children to walk in truth and experience the fullness of joy that comes from knowing and walking with Christ, but we can’t control their response to the Word. We all have people in our lives we’re praying for and trying to share the gospel with, but oftentimes, it’s those we are not expecting that respond.
How does this impact the way we share God’s Word? Two things:
1. Share indiscriminately.
Join me in making the Lord so normal of a conversation that we seek to talk about Him however and whenever we can. There are times when I’m very intentional about sharing Christ (for example, I’m going to Dunkin Donuts after this and I’m taking a tract today to give to a certain person). But the God-moments usually happen when I’m not inspecting soil, but just casting seed.
2. Look for real fruit.
Soil inspection leads us to over-analyze any kind of action or behavior to the point that we can forget what true fruit from the Spirit looks like. For example, coming to a church service is not a fruit of the Spirit. People come to a service for all kinds of reasons. Are they coming because they have a desire to know God and enjoy Him? (“The fruit of the Spirit is love,” Galatians 5:22.) Or are they coming because they’re bored, or because they think it will make them a better person? Increasingly in our country, true biblical fruit will look so much better than the kind of fake cultural Christianity we are used to seeing.
Don’t be discouraged in doing good and telling people God’s Word yourself, church. We cannot guarantee the people we want to grow actually will. But God does guarantee that His Word will be effective for His purposes. Isaiah 55:10-11:
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.