4While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, He told this parable: 5“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”. (Psalm 8:4-8, NIV)
Last week, we reflected on the Parable of the Sower, or, if you prefer, the Parable of the Soils. We talked about what helps us to be good soil, soil in which God’s word flourishes, leading to an abundant harvest in life. Today let us explore a different direction with this parable because it also has something to say about our understanding of work and God.
The parable begins with a description of someone working: “A farmer went out to sow his seed” (v. 5). He worked in the hope of reaping a bountiful harvest. Unlike what we do today, the farmer did not plant carefully preparing the soil and making sure the seed was embedded in the soil. Rather, this worker did what was common in his day, scattering his seed broadly. It fell randomly on a variety of soils: the hard soil of the path, rocky soil, thorn-infested soil, and good soil. Farmers in the first-century would come back later and work the seeds into the soil. Jesus doesn’t tell us if this particular sower did that or not . . . a curious omission.
What seems odd is that that the sower didn’t make sure all of his seed went where it would grow well. This suggests something about the generosity of Jesus in scattering the Good News of the Kingdom of God among a wide variety of listeners. Some rejected it. Some embraced it but only for a while. Others took the message of Jesus into their hearts and it changed their lives.
So, what does this parable have to say about our work? I’m not suggesting that we should do exactly as the sower did, working in
such a way that much of our effort ends up in vain. Of course we should try to work in a way that brings positive results. But in many ways we cannot always guarantee the results of our work. Sometimes, for example, a realtor invests a lot of time working with a client, but no sale happens. Or an author writes a manuscript that isn’t published.
Our responsibility is to be faithful in sowing. When we are, a bumper crop is possible. Yet, at some point, we need to step back and trust God with the results of my work. God is the One who will take what we have sown and help it to be fruitful or not.
When look at the Parable of the Sower from this perspective, we are encouraged. We need to sow well, to steward well what God has entrusted to us. But we don’t have to obsess about the results. Frankly, we can’t guarantee them. God is the One who will help our work to be fruitful, according to His wisdom and sovereignty. This truth reassures us, helping us to work well without worrying about how everything is going to turn out.
Do you tend to worry about the results of your work? Or are you able to trust God without anxiety?
Pay attention to the kind of “soil” that you are. The parable also guides us about our work. we are called to sow. We cannot always guarantee the results of our work. We are to be faithful, entrusting the results to God.