Sometimes It is the seed, not the soil

by Michael E. Brooks

“But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:8 NKJV).

As we traveled in the countryside of Bangladesh during a rain shower we saw a number of workers transplanting rice. They were knee deep in the water which flooded the fields, and I joked, “Don’t they know better than to work in the rain — they’ll get wet.”

The fact is that rice loves water, and the wetter it is, the better it is for the crop, at least up to a reasonable point. But though that is generally true, it is not always exactly true.

The fact is that in Bangladesh there are several categories of rice, each with its own particular requirements of climate, water level and type of soil. One needs to be planted in the middle or later stages of the rainy season. Others are developed to prosper if planted before the rains. Still another kind of rice is suited to the soils and dryer conditions of the hill tracts.

Planting the wrong kind of seed for the time of year or type of soil may be just as unproductive as planting in poor soil.

Jesus taught that some soils are naturally more productive, and similarly that some people are more open to the word of God. Crops sown on rocky soil or the pathway are likely to fail. So also, truth spoken to unreceptive minds will not bring good results.

But he was not limiting the science of agriculture to only one ingredient. A crop may fail because the soil was defective. But another crop may fail because defective seed was planted, or because the seed was wrong for the particular conditions of that place or season.

In life, our thoughts and belief systems guide us and to a great extent determine our success. If we consider the various world views as “seed” which is sown within us, some are good and productive while others are not.

There are the various categories of religion — Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and many others. There are the world philosophies based on teachings of Aristotle, Kant, and Marx. There are the broad categories of evolution, socialism, atheism — the list can be extended almost endlessly.

In Jesus’ parable the seed is the word of God (Matthew 13:18). That word will produce in good soil, reliably. One who believes and follows the word is assured of blessings and success, both in this life and eternally.

One might argue that some with non-Biblical world views do prosper, and that is true, if one’s definition of prosperity is limited. Jesus observed that some of the seed planted on bad soil would sprout and look good for a time. But it did not produce fruit, because the plants did not last. They were burned up or choked out.

Human history is filled with systems of thought which have seemed to work for a while, but eventually were abandoned.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away” (Mark 13:31).

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Our belief systems and world views largely determine the decisions we make and the way our lives are shaped. If we base these on truth, we will succeed. If we base them on human error and deceit we are doomed to fail.

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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