The great controversy theme is implicit in Jesus’ parable of the sower. The listing of four types of responses to the gospel message indicates that there are more than just “good” and “bad” people in the world.
Life is more complex than that, and so we need to be careful how we approach those who don’t seem to respond to the gospel as we think they should.
The battle for souls is real, and the enemy uses whatever means he can to turn people away from salvation. For instance, in the context of the seed falling by the wayside, Ellen G. White wrote: “Satan and his angels are in the assemblies where the gospel is preached. While angels of heaven endeavor to impress hearts with the word of God, the enemy is on the alert to make the word of no effect. With an earnestness equaled only by his malice, he tries to thwart the work of the Spirit of God. While Christ is drawing the soul by His love, Satan tries to turn away the attention of the one who is moved to seek the Saviour.”-Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 44.
One could ask, Why couldn’t the farmer be more careful and not waste seed by throwing it on the path? Why couldn’t he be more diligent in digging out the rocks? Why didn’t he pull more weeds?
When sowing gospel seed, human effort is always limited. We must sow everywhere. We are not the judge of what is good and bad soil. The appearance of weeds simply indicates that we are just unable to prevent evil from springing up in the least expected places. It is the Lord of the harvest working in the background who ensures that all who can be saved will be saved. We do our job and must learn to trust Him to do His.
What are ways we see the reality of this parable? Why do we sometimes see people, just newly baptized, walk out the door? Or others who simply show no interest at all? Or those who become firmly grounded in the faith?