How Does Your Garden Grow?
Rev. David W. Holmes
One of the primary methods of teaching that Jesus employed was the use of parables. These illustrative stories made spiritual principles clear to those who had “ears to hear,” and were so simple that they were not understood by those who had wrapped themselves in the veil of complicated theologies. Since Israel was primarily an agrarian society, Jesus used many illustrations of seeds, planting, crops, weeds, soil and harvesting. In fact, the principles He set down about sowing and reaping were so important that Jesus said, in Mark 4: 13, that if a person could not understand this principle, he would not be able to understand anything.
If we read, and study, the parables on sowing and reaping we learn:
1. If we don’t plant seed, we don’t get a harvest.
2. We will get a harvest of the kind of seed that we plant.
3. The seed won’t grow if we keep digging it up.
4. The seed must be watered and nurtured.
5. We will get a “bumper crop” of what we plant.
6. The kind of harvest we get depends on where the seed is planted
These principles can be applied to virtually every area of our lives. They most certainly can be applied to one of the most important responsibilities with which God entrusts to us, the rearing of our children. Let’s take a quick look at how these principles apply to God’s admonition to “Train up a child in the way he should go.” (Proverbs 22: 6)
If we don’t plant seed, we won’t get a harvest. People would think a farmer crazy if he plowed and tilled the ground, got out the rocks, worked in compost and fertilizer, and then never planted a crop. All he would have is the nicest patch of empty soil in the county. Today, we talk about our children being empty, about “generation x” being devoid of caring, of compassion, of ethics, of morals, and even of God. But, have we planted these things into them? Or, have we allowed them to go their own way, hoping that they will eventually find the seed store and purchase the right kind of seed.
We will get a harvest of the kind of seed we plant. A farmer will not sow corn and harvest watermelons. Are we planting love into our kids, or are we planting indifference? Are we planting compassion, or are we planting a self-centered attitude? Are we planting the love of the world or the love of God?
The seed won’t grow if we keep digging it up. The farmer doesn’t go out every day and dig up his seed to see if it has sprouted yet. If he did, it would die. Likewise, even if we plant good seed into our children, if we dig it up it will not take root and grow. How do we dig up the seed? Do we impress on them the importance of church attendance and then take them and drop them off? Do we stress the importance of God’s Word and they never see us reading the Bible? To we encourage them to pray but we never pray with them? Is the way that we live our life a contradiction to the way we tell them they should live theirs?
The seed must be watered and nurtured. The farmer does not plant his seed and then forget it. He makes sure it has enough water and nourishment, and he keeps the weeds out. God expects us to do the same thing with our children. (See Ephesians 6) We must reinforce the good seed that we plant in them. Water the seed with love. Fertilize it with the example of a life lived on Godly principles. Identify the weeds that sprout up in their lives and pluck them out.
We will get a “bumper crop” of what we plant. A farmer does not plant a kernel of seed corn and get in return a stalk that has one ear of corn and that ear have one kernel of corn. No, the stalk will have many ears and each ear will have hundreds of kernels. Jesus talked about getting a thirty, or sixty or a hundred fold return on our planting. That sounds really great until you take into consideration that it not only applies to good seed, it also applies to bad. Don’t we hear many parents say, “I don’t understand it. Little Johnny (or Susie) is worse than I ever thought about being. What are you going to plant, corn or kudzu? You’re going to get a big harvest someday.
The kind of harvest we get will depend on where the seed is planted. Have we prepared the ground of our children’s hearts. Have we gotten out the stones? Have we pulled up the weeds and thorns that would choke out the crop? Have we shooed away the birds that would steal the seed?
I have used the word “WE” a lot in this article because the primary responsibility of what gets planted into the hearts of our children and how it is cared for is ours. It is not the responsibility their school teachers, or their Sunday school teachers, or even their pastor. Remember, seed WILL get planted. Who will be doing the sowing? I pray that it will be good, loving, Christian parents.