Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Break up Fallow Ground

There is something that is wise, if not necessary, before sowing the seed of the Word of God.

This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.” (Jeremiah 4:3 NIV)

The Lord was not speaking about farming. He was speaking to the spiritual need in Israel. His illustration was apt. Farmers do not sow in unplowed ground. They do not sow in thorns and weeds. The land is plowed and harrowed. It is broken up so that the seed gets underground in soft, prepared soil.

Jesus gave an illustration of a farmer who sowed his seed at random (Mark 4:1-20). Some of it fell on the path, some in rocky soil, some among thorns. And some of the seed fell on good, broken ground, with no rocks and no weeds. When the seed was planted on good ground, it brought a harvest of 30, 60, and 100 times the investment. None of the others brought forth fruit at all. Jesus’ teaching is on the receptivity of the heart to the Word of God.

The command given to Israel through Jeremiah not to sow on unbroken ground or among thorns was because of the futility of it. It would be a fruitless effort. Jesus also explained to His disciples that the Word of God was the seed, and the soil represented the hearts of the people.

We are to sow in prepared ground, and we are to prepare the ground. How do we prepare people to receive the Word of God? It is not done by sowing the Word on hardened hearts. First, we prepare the ground by loving people. We are surrounded by people most of the time. All of these people make up the ground to be planted. It may be easier to scatter the seed on this ground indiscriminately than it is to soften the ground first. But if we are hoping for fruit, it is necessary to soften the ground.

Our expression of love cannot depend on the loveliness of the people we are supposed to love. It must depend upon the source of love—God the Father—and our relationship to Him. Are we prepared to love the unlovely? If so, we will find ourselves sowing the wonderful Word of Live into prepared hearts. This does not mean that there will be an automatic, quick response. A long period of loving and understanding may be necessary. On the other hand, it may be only a matter of minutes between the time you express love in warmth and understanding to a person and the time you have a prepared heart in which to sow the Word. It doesn’t matter whether it is long or short, but it is a prerequisite to any harvest. It is not an option.

Second, we are to pray for the people. Paul wrote,

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1, 3, 4 NIV)

Pray for the person whom God desires to be saved.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian, p.48-50)

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