Leading a person along in their spiritual journey is like preparing for a harvest. Anyone who has worked a vegetable garden knows that there is a definite time frame and sequence of steps to follow if the desired harvest is to be realized. We must dig in the soil, remove the weeds, plant the seeds, and water the garden. It is also necessary to create the right environment for the plants; some may require full sunlight, while others may need some shade. Furthermore, it is necessary to protect the plants from birds and other garden pests. In other words, plants in a garden must be nurtured from seeds to fruitful and mature plants. For people on the spiritual journey, a similar process begins before the people are baptized, and it must continue afterward, as well. Ideally a person is nurtured along until he or she is able to start nurturing others. This truth again underscores the vital nature of a planned sequence that provides the right time frames, takes the right steps, and creates the best nurturing and protective environment.
Read the parable of the sower and Jesus’ explanation in Luke 8:4–15. What challenges does this parable bring to us in regard to nurturing to maturity the seed that falls on good ground? See also John 16:7-8, 13.
Jesus’ explanation of the parable reveals some interesting facts. Verse 12 suggests that some people began to believe but were sidetracked by the devil before their belief was firmly established. Verse 13 describes some who received the word with joy. They believed for a while, but, when tempted, they chose another direction. Verse 14 mentions another group who heard but did not go on to Christian maturity. Most of the people started on the journey toward Christ and His kingdom, but things happened at various stages along the way that prevented their growth progress.
Simply sowing the seed is rarely enough to bring about a good harvest. Our challenge as a church, and as individuals, is to sow the gospel seed and then sequentially nurture to maturity all those who begin the journey.
What part of the parable best describes your own spiritual experience? What choices can you make that can improve your situation?