Trust God to Work
Matthew 13:3–8, 18–23
I came home feeling frustrated and discouraged. I had failed another witnessing encounter. The person was uninterested and rejected Christ. What did I do wrong? Could I have said something differently, leading to a positive result?
Should I stick to discipling believers? The outcome in those settings is seemingly better.
However, I was reminded that I cannot take the credit or blame for a person’s decision to follow Christ. Instead, like the parable of the sower, my responsibility is to share the life-changing gospel faithfully, regardless of how others respond.
Share the message of Christ wherever you are. (3–8)
This parable reminds us it is challenging to be a Christian “sower.” Think about it — the synagogue and religious leaders were shutting Christ out. Many who were gathering to hear Him were coming for what they could get, then left. There was growing hostility toward Christ.
The hatred and rejection that awaited Christ’s early disciples seemingly follows sowers today. Nevertheless, just as the ancient sower would scatter the seed by hand, so must we be faithful in sowing the word of God. We must not look for quick results. Seeds don’t germinate and grow into a plant overnight.
Often the gospel lies dormant in a person’s life until the Spirit awakens it and brings growth. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Keep on sowing wherever you are.
Not everyone is transformed by the gospel. (18–22)
In antiquity, some paths ran through the fields. Inevitably some seed would fall on these beaten-down paths. Without soft soil, the seeds were devoured by birds. Jesus tells the sower to expect Satan to snatch away the gospel’s truthfulness from some of the hearers.
Some seeds will fall upon shallow soil. The bedrock right below the surface prohibits the plant from growing to maturity. Its root system is too shallow to endure the scorching sun. Similarly, Jesus informs us that some hear the gospel and appear to accept it with joy, but persecution and trouble lead to a falling away.
Some seed, though, is sown near thorny bushes, which provide intense competition for the seed’s nourishment. A small seed next to a thornbush will not receive needed nutrients to survive.
Some people who hear the gospel are much like the seed sown by the thornbush; the worries of life and the deceitfulness of wealth make them unfruitful. This parable is a sober reminder that not everyone will be transformed by the gospel. Even a positive outward response is no guarantee that one is a true Christ-follower. But what is required of you and me? Continued faithfulness to the gospel message.
Those who accept the message and follow Christ experience abundance. (23)
An encouraging truth is that a harvest is promised; some will be saved. These are the good soil. Matthew uses good with a notion of “beautiful.” A life changed is beautiful in God’s sight. Good seed sown in good soil bears a good crop.
Despite challenges along the way, the final focus on the splendid outcome is secured. You may not see the harvest right now, but don’t give up. Remain faithful, and you will discover your efforts will bear fruit because of the grace of God. Keep sharing the life-changing gospel regardless of how others respond.
By Rob Jackson, Ph.D.
Jackson has served in a variety of ministry roles, including pastor and state missionary.