Nature is a wonderful teacher. Even the Word of God contains lessons from nature and about nature. Indeed, many of the parables of Jesus, as well as other parts of the New Testament, use nature to make their inspired lessons easier to understand.
And what could be understood two thousand years ago can still be understood today – if we try.
Over the course of my lifetime, and thanks to many special people in my life, I have learned about gardening and farming. I am not an expert in either one (far from it), but I have learned enough to understand what God is teaching me – teaching us – about His kingdom and His grace.
In the Letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote these words:
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19, NIV)
When I read Paul’s words, I immediately recall the parable of Jesus in which He described the Kingdom of God through the actions of a farmer, his seeds, and the soil on which the seeds fell:
One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
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“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.” (Luke 8:4-15, NLT)
What is the connection between the words of Jesus and the words of Paul? Roots. Yes, roots. Understand roots, and you understand the lessons.
In the parable of Jesus, the lack of roots caused the seeds sown on the footpath, the rocky soil, and the thorny soil to perish. On the footpath, no roots ever took hold because no roots ever grew. In the rocky soil, roots were born but could not develop properly and so the plants were deprived of the moisture they needed. In the thorny soil, roots grew and developed but died as the plants were choked out by the roots of the weeds that grew up with them.
But then there was the good soil, fertile soil, soil that was not too hard nor too rocky nor too covered with weeds.
And from the good soil came “a huge harvest” – more than a hundredfold.
The point of Jesus’ parable is that our hearts – the soil in which the Word of God can take hold and bring forth an abundant harvest – will determine the outcome of the work of the Holy Spirit. Give our Lord the right soil, and roots will develop. Give our Lord good roots, and we will do great things for the Kingdom of God.
How, then, can we ensure that our hearts are ready? How can we know that the Word of God will take hold in our hearts and bring forth a harvest of blessings? By being rooted in the love of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:17b-18). In other words, when we are firmly and thoroughly grounded in the commands of Jesus to love God and each other with actions and in truth (1 John 3:17-18), then – and only then – can we tender to God the conditions necessary for our being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
An abundant harvest.
It’s all there, my friend, so now the choice is yours.
Plant your roots deep in the love of Jesus Christ, and then let God’s grace bring forth a harvest of blessings!
-- Dr. John Morris