He also said,This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.Mark 4:26-27
This is a secret of the kingdom of God, and to me it is one of the most encouraging of all the parables Jesus ever uttered. He is speaking of how this rule of God increases, how it grows in a life. He explains it as a coming to harvest by a patient expectation that God will work. The key of this whole passage is,
the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. That is, there are forces at work that will be faithful to perform their work—whether a farmer stews and frets about it or not. Farmers do what they can do, what is expected of them. But then God must work. And God will work. And in the confidence of that, this farmer rests secure. As Jesus draws the picture this farmer goes out to sow. It is hard work as he sows the field, but this is what he can do. But then he goes home and goes to bed. He does not sit up all night biting his fingernails, wondering if the seed fell in the right places or whether it will take root. Nor does he rise the next morning and go out and dig it up to see whether or not it has sprouted yet. He rests secure in the fact that God is at work, that He has a part in this process, and He must do it; no one can do it for Him. But he will faithfully perform it. So the farmer rests secure, knowing that as the seed grows there are stages that are observable:
first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. It is only as the grain is ripe that he is called into action again. When the harvest is ready, then he is to act once more.
This is exactly what Paul describes for us in that passage in 1 Corinthians 3:9a:
For we are God's fellow workers. This is the way we ought to expect Him to work. It involves a witness first, perhaps a word of teaching or exhortation to someone—or to ourselves. And then an inevitable process begins, one that takes time and patience and allows God to work. One of the most destructive forces at work in the church today is our insistent demand for instant results. We want to have immediate conversions, immediate responses every time we speak. We tend not to allow time for the Word to take root and grow and come to harvest.
I have watched a boy in Peninsula Bible Church (PBC) growing up since grade school. I watched him come into adolescence and enter into a period of deep and bitter rebellion against God. I watched his parents, hurt and crushed by his attitudes, yet nevertheless praying for him—saying what they could to him—but above all holding him up in prayer. I watched the whole process as the seed that had been sown in his heart took root and began to grow. There were tiny observable signs of change occurring. Gradually he came back to the Lord. And as an adult young man, he asked me to fill out a reference for him to go to seminary. That is the Word growing secretly. The sower knows not how it happens but can rest secure in this.
Our Lord is teaching us the fantastic truth that God is at work. It does not all depend on us!
Thank You, Lord that I can trust that as I do my part and sow the seed of Your Word wherever I can, You will do the rest.
We have the privilege of sowing the fertile seed of the gospel. Do we trust the sovereign work of the Spirit to produce a harvest, or rely on our own effectiveness?