After The Seed Is Planted
Most of us have probably heard of the "seed principle" and may have even used it to teach others about the New Testament church today. We have taught, rightly so, I believe, that if we plant the pure word of God, if the heart is honest and receptive to it, the seed will produce a pure Christian, unadulterated by the denominational concept of "Christianity." We believe, as is shown in the parable of the sower, that when the pure word of God is planted within the hearts of good and honest people, they will inevitably produce fruit (cf. Matt. 13:23).
It is good that we see the need for preaching the word [sowing], but, unfortunately, some see only the sowing portion of this growth process and forget that there is work to be done after the seed is planted. I believe we need to consider what needs to happen after the seed is planted, that we might ensure fruit is produced!
Fertilization and Watering. The apostle Paul touched on part of this need when he was dealing with the errors of the Corinthian church. In an effort to get them to see that he [and any other
preacher or teacher] was just a worker in the field of God's labor, he said, "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building" (1 Cor. 3:5-9).
Note that Paul mentions that one had done the planting and another had done the watering. Let us not gloss over the "watering" portion of this step, for any good agriculturist will tell you that a seed needs water to initiate the growth process, and that seed/plant then needs subsequent, regular watering to continue its growth.
In the spiritual realm, this is an important step! We should not expect that we can simply plant the seed [teach the word of God] and then leave the seed to itself and sit back and expect growth; we must be willing to do some "watering"! Those who do not know God will have a difficult time with their new-found knowledge and some things found within the word of God will simply be foreign to their minds; it is then that we need to step in and do a little watering to help the seed grow. How? By answering their questions and doubts with Scripture; by pointing them to Scripture that instructs them about the new life in Christ; and by showing yourself to be an example of spiritual purity (1 Tim. 4:12).
Let us also not overlook the need for giving the planted seed the nutrients that will help it to grow. It may sound redundant, but those newborn babes in Christ need to "desire the pure milk of the word, that [they] may grow thereby" (1 Pet. 2:2). In the growth process of a seed, a portion of the seed's cover actually separates from the growing portion and becomes "fertilizer" for the growing plant. In the spiritual sense, the word of God continues to be that which will help the growth of the plant, now that it has begun to grow. To continue that growth, we need to keep feeding the word of God to the newborn babe and never let them begin to wither for lack of nutrients.
The apostle Peter urged the Philippian brethren, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things" (Phil. 4:8). A major part of what helps a new Christian to grow is the concentration on spiritually-helpful things, to the exclusion of the spiritually-detrimental things. Help them to have a spiritual mind by feeding them spiritual things; back it up by showing that you have a spiritual mind, too.
The Need to Weed. Just as important in the spiritual growth of an individual is the need for ridding one's self of the things that hinder growth. In gardens, we all know what that is: the weeds! What do you do when you see a weed; ignore it? No! No farmer in his or her right mind would allow the weeds to take over the garden, and so should we be unwilling to let the things of this world take over the mind of a disciple of Jesus Christ. If you remember in the parable of the sower, there was one who had received the word of God but then allowed "the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches [to] choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful" (Matt.13:22); the picture Jesus showed in the parable was of a plant that had been choked out by thorns (v. 7). As hard as it may be to hear that such can happen, it occurs much more often than it should, and often because someone has failed to do a little "weeding." I have seen it happen with relatively-new converts and I have unfortunately seen it in some ostensibly "mature" Christians. No matter how many years we have been serving the Lord, though, we cannot allow the worldly mind take over, for it will inevitably force out the spiritual things and the result will always be unfaithfulness. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen.
Let us, in our teaching, not forget to tell those of the world that, if they come to Christ, they need to leave the world and the love for it behind (cf. 1 John 2:15). Part of becoming a Christian is the process of putting to death the old man; we cannot bring our old habits into the new life! The apostle Paul reminded the Roman brethren that they were now "dead to sin" and they were to not allow sin to reign in their body but present it in service to God (Rom. 6:11-14). He also reminded the Ephesian brethren that they were to "put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man" (Eph. 4:22,23). Yes, we must put on Christ, but we must also put away from us the "old man" and his habits that we ensure the "weeds" do not take over and choke out the word!
The Results of Good Gardening. Anyone who has ever planted a garden can tell you the results are worth the effort. Whether it is a flower garden or a vegetable garden, the fruit is worthy of the labor. But the successful gardener also knows that labor is a necessary part of the process. Success will not come if we never plant the seed, but we will produce little if we simply throw out the seed without any further efforts, either.
For the flower gardener, the fruit of their labor [and God's increase] is the beauty of the flower. Solomon sought the simple beauty of gardens (Eccl. 2:5) and Jesus Himself referred to the beauty of the flowers of the field (Matt. 6:28,29). Those things are only temporary, though; consider the eternal beauty of a blossoming child of God and the positive effect he or she will have on others in this world. Many will appreciate the beauty of the faithful disciple and, seeing this, some will glorify God for it (Matt. 5:16).
For the fruit or vegetable gardener, there is nothing like going out to your own garden and picking some fresh fruit or vegetables and enjoying the [literal] fruit of your labors and God's increase. It even tastes better! The fruit serves as sustenance for all who are willing to come and eat and re-energizes the hungry.
So it is with the spiritual fruit we produce! It brings joy to the heavenly Gardener and sustenance to all who are willing to come take and eat of the spiritual food He offers through us (John 6:27).
We know that every plant produces after its own kind (cf. Gen. 1:11,12), so what kind of spiritual fruit are we producing? As we are, so we produce.
Pa g e
Pa g e