I have noticed something very significant over the last eight years or so at the time of this writing. Simply put, people expect to reap where they have not sown. That’s like going to the bank trying to make a withdrawal when you have not made any deposits. We would say that is silly, but Christians do it all the time. They expect God to swoop down and rescue them from their dilemma when they have never taken the time to invest in their own spiritual wellbeing and to learn what God has already made available to them for that situation.
In this lesson, I am going to present to you the importance of sowing the word of God into your own heart so that when situations arise, good or bad, you will be able to act according to the word of God and with wisdom. We are going to use the parable of the sower and the seed as a launching point for this topic as well as other parables that highlight the importance of the word of God from Matthew Chapter 13.
The Sower and the Seed
Matthew 13:3–9 (ESV) — 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”
Jesus presents four environments of the sown seeds.
- Along the path
- Rocky ground
- Among thorns
- Good ground
It is very good for us that Jesus gives us the meaning of this parable and the message is profound. When this parable is referenced, it is usually associated with money. However, this parable is not about money directly. It is a principle of life that we should follow if we are to obtain anything—even from God.
Let’s look at Jesus’ own explanation of this parable. Read Matthew 13:18-23.
The Seed Along the Path
Seeds sown along the path represent those who hear the word of God, but do not understand. Satan comes along and takes the word of God that was sown in his/her heart. This is a very critical thing. Many who hear the word of God don’t understand it, but only a few will seek the matter out (See Matthew 7:14-15). If you don’t understand what you read in the bible, then you should seek understanding. Jesus promised us that if we seek we will find (Matthew 7:7-8). Therefore, those who do not understand the word of God that was sown into them, have not reckoned the word of God important enough to seek the matter out. I would say that this is a heart issue more than anything else. If you want to understand the word of God so that Satan doesn’t take what you’ve heard away, then the only thing you need do is pursue understanding. Pursue God and know him (See Proverbs 9:10). Know that he is not hiding things from you and wants to reveal his ways to you. In other words, God wants you to understand and understanding is a choice you have to make.
Let me stop for a moment and discuss the concept of the heart. It is from the heart that we do what we do. Jesus said that we speak from what our hearts are full of (See Matthew 12:34). If your heart is not full of the word of God, which consequently produces faith, then you will not measure the word of God very highly at all. The things of God are not important to you so you will have little fruit from the word of God.
It doesn’t matter how much you attempt to coerce someone to seek the Lord or feed upon his word. If that person’s heart isn’t there, then he or she simply will not do it. They will continue to do the things that comes from their own heart. This goes to show or rather to confirm that the heart and the mind are two separate entities. You can appeal to the mind of a person and the logic and reason may be sound. However, if their heart is not “there” then they won’t go “there.”
A person has to want to pursue God. People have to want to feed upon his word. However, we tend to feed upon what the world offers us. Spiritual things seem to far-fetched to pursue—to unreal or uncertain. Therefore, we prefer and confide in medical science, the latest “get rich” scheme, the stock market, etc. instead of God, even though we say we trust Him.
The bottom line is that our heart is not for God and what we say and do reveals this. Our hearts are tied to the world because in our minds that seems more secure and certain. We therefore pursue the things of the world instead of the things of God. Therefore, why should we expect to reap from the Word that which has not been sown into our hearts. The word of God found us and entered our ears, but that is as far as it got and therefore no fruit was produced.
The issue of the heart affects all of the conditions presented in this parable. It all depends on how we prioritize God and his kingdom.
The Seed on Rocky Ground
Jesus said that this represents those who hear the word of God and immediately receives that word with joy. However, he has no root within himself and only endures for a while when trouble comes because of the word. I like the way that the New Living Translation states this.
Matthew 13:21 (NLT) — 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.
Though this person receives the word of God with gladness, the fact that they are not strong and nourished means that they will only endure for a short time when trouble comes because of the word.
This reminds me of a church service where people are shouting and praising God because of what was said by the preacher. However, when they get back home and into their normal everyday life, that excitement wears off rather quickly. Again, they are not pursuing the word to understand it and strengthen themselves with it. Therefore, the initial boost of the word wears off and that word does not produce for them.
The Seed Among Thorns
These are those who hear the word, but are distracted by the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches. Keep in mind that those who purportedly preaches the word of God are promoting cares and riches. How many times have you heard preachers tell you that God wants you rich and your pursuit should be for those riches (blessings). We totally miss the mark here and only heighten our propensity to seed material things to be consumed by our own lusts.
Jesus said that you cannot love God and money at the same time (Matthew 6:24). You cannot have a heart for the things of the world and the things of God simultaneously. Either you desire the world or you desire the things of God. I am not suggesting that we forgo anything having to do with the world. That would be silly and impractical. We need the things that are in the world such as food, furniture, housing, etc. The point here is that those things should not be what our heart is full of. Again, you can see we are back to the issue of the heart.
Jesus said that these are those who hear the word (same as the previous three), understands it and produces. The process is rather simple according to Jesus here.
Hear the word à Understand the word à Produce from the word
All we have to do is hear the word and understand it and it will produce fruit. However, recall from the first condition that we said understanding the word is a choice. We have to seek the matter out. This means reading and studying the bible and asking God for wisdom and understanding. The bible says that the knowledge of God is the beginning of understanding so we should therefore pursue God.
Pursuit seems to be very important here and that is the very thing many if not most professed Christians do not do. You would be hard pressed to have a conversation with a “Christian” about the word of God because they really don’t know it. They can tell you about the latest sports game, shopping craze, soap opera, or school outing, but not the word of God.
If you pursue God and feed upon his word to understand it and do it, then you will produce fruit from that word. The word of God will affect your life!
The Priority of God’s Kingdom
How important are the things of God to you? How important is the word of God to you? If Martians were to come down on earth to examine your life for a few months, would they be able to conclude that a belief in a God and that God’s kingdom is important to you or will they say that school, children, occupation, fun, etc. is most important to you? We may have an ideal situation for ourselves where we would like to think that we trust God, love God, and his kingdom is important to us. However, the reality is that those things are not as important to us as the things of the world.
Consider a couple of parables from Matthew 13 that highlight the importance of God’s Kingdom (and his word) in our lives.
Matthew 13:44 (ESV) — “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Matthew 13:45–46 (ESV) — 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
How far would you go for the things of God? Is understanding a new-found revelation from scripture (from reading the bible, a preacher quoting the scripture, etc.) more important than the next episode of your favorite soap opera (sitcom) or football game? Do you look forward and are excited about what God is going to show you next or are you anxious about what is going to happen to your favorite character on your favorite sitcom? Are you truly pursuing God as evidenced by the activities of your daily lives? Many would say yes, but the Martians would conclude no (see illustration above about Martians). In other words, the truth of the matter is that you are more likely to pursue the next episode of your favorite sitcom or sports game than you would in pursuing the word of God to understand it.
Matthew 6:33 (ESV) — 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Reaping From the Produce
Now here is where it gets interesting. There are so many people that do not pursue God and yet expect to reap from the Word of God that they never secured in their hearts. Some don’t spend the time to sow the word of God into their own hears. Instead they sow fear, hype, and the world into their minds and hearts. It is no surprise that most experience a defeated life and are beaten down by the Kingdom of darkness.
Jesus said that Satan is a thief, murderer, and liar. He goes around seeking who he might destroy. God has provided many weapons for us to defend ourselves against the devil and his demons, but many have no idea what those weapons are. Professed Christians do not sow the word of God in their heart and therefore there is no fruit to pick from in a time of need.
Christians expect to reap from the word of God what was not sown. This is why many Christians practice “hero worship.” That means that they seek the preacher, minister, evangelist, healing minister, etc. to get the job done for them instead of learning and doing for themselves and teach others. That is the model of discipleship found in the bible. We learn from God and we practice what we learned. Freely you have received, freely give (See 10:8).
If a farmer who has corn seeds does not plant those seeds, would we think it silly for him to come back weeks later to harvest corn? Yes. We would think it very silly for a farmer to expect to harvest corn that he has not planted. Yet we do this same thing with God all the time. It is not that God is withholding from us, but rather that we do not take the time to discover what God has already provided for us. All we have to do is eat it and allow the nourishment from the word of God to produce fruit in us so that we can sow to others and repeat the process.
Typically, as I said earlier in this article, we correlate the sowing and reaping to money. However, the bible reveals much more than that. As a matter of fact, I would say that the principle of sowing and reaping that the bible reveals is the antithesis of the sowing and reaping typically preached by ministers. What we normally hear is how we can sow money into a ministry and God magically blesses us with an abundance. They speak of the new car we can have, the luxurious home we can live in, and the large amounts of cash we can accumulate. However, God does not bless us with an abundance so that we can consume it on ourselves. God intends for us to share, i.e., sow what we have to help others and to teach them to do the same. God expects us to be disciples! Imagine that.
If we sow sparingly then we will reap sparingly. That is common sense. If I deposit $5 into my bank account then I can only withdraw up to $5. It would be silly of me to think that I can withdraw $20. If I deposit $1000 then of course I can withdraw the $20. I think we would do much better in life if we treated the word of God like that. If we don’t sow the word into our heart then we shouldn’t expect to receive from the word of God what we have not planted (what we do not know or what we do not truly believe).
God has promised us so many things, but how many Christians really know it? How many Christians take the time to discover what God said in his word? How many Christians feed upon the word of God daily? How many of you knows what to do when sickness comes, trouble comes, or whatever?
The Church is No Help Either
You would think that going to church is a great place to pursue God and to learn from the word of God. However, I have found in my own personal experience that such is not necessarily the case and you have to be diligent to ensure that you receive the word of God and not someone’s dogma. Many churches are social entities not centers of discipleship. Many churches simply do not promote the word of God. They may have a plethora of programs, functions, and committees, but very little in the way of ministry and the promotion of the pursuit of God.
You might find that you drift away from feeding upon the word of God with much activity in church. You may find that you are being busy, but not effective. It is easy to get busy in churches with all of the groups, services, ministries, anniversaries, functions, etc. and totally miss the point of pursuing God. The pastor of my youth taught us to “Eat, drink, and digest the word of God and know God for yourself.” Read your own bible. Study your own bible. Do what you can to understand the word of God so that you can bear fruit and have a harvest from which to take when you need it.
People Around You May Be of Little Help
When you decide to pursue the word of God and live by what you have learned, you may find that you are alone. Jesus told us that only a few people will find the narrow road (Matthew 7:14-15). Therefore, those who pursue God are the minorities. You may be attempting to practice the word of God for your health, finances, career, business, or whatever, only to find many negative people from your own family and friends. You will find that many people will criticize you for your belief and attempt to stir you back to the way of the world and depending on man instead of God. You have to not only defend yourself against the kingdom of darkness, but you will also have to protect yourself from those around you else they will pull you back into the bucket of unbelief so to speak. You will definitely have to learn to encourage and motivate yourself to stay on the narrow road.
Don’t rely on people to be a support system for you because it is most probably that they will not be. Find others who are also pursuing the word (even if that is an internet relationship) and continue. Finding a good church that promotes the word of God and the pursuit of God is a plus.
The responsibility is on you to sow and then reap from what you have sown. Don’t expect to reap from the word of God when you have not filled your heart with the word of God. Don’t have the attitude that you only need have someone pray for you for you to get better or be delivered. Learn to pray for yourself and others. Pursue God and his kingdom as the number one priority in your life and live what you learn. Remember that faith without works is dead (See James 2:14-26) and that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). Recall from this lesson that you need to understand what you hear.
Many people, because they do not put ample time into pursuing God and pursuing the word of God, try to reap from what they have not sown. Since they have not sowed the word of God into their own hearts, they rely on others to help them in times of need. God has provided so much for us and we only need read the bible to learn what those things are.
If you find that you are one of those many people who constantly try to reap where they have not sown, then repent and start sowing the word of God into your heart today. Put down the newspaper for a bit, turn off the television for a change, don’t spend so much time worrying, and instead sow the word of God into your own heart. Meditate on the word of God regularly and allow that word to produce in you and through you. Reap where you have sown and stop trying to reap where you have not sown. Amen.