October 19, 2005

Overcoming Discouraging Results

Luke 8:4-15

4While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." 9His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, " 'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.' 11"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.


Let us not become weary in doing good ... Galatians 6:9

Nothing breeds despair like discouraging results. Let's say that you finally summon up enough courage to talk with someone about your faith, but the person responds with a shrug of indifference. A lack of enthusiasm like that can be deeply discouraging. And before long you might feel like giving up on witnessing altogether.

It's easy to let negative responses put a halt to our inviting, bringing, and sharing with lost people. We tend to say, "It's too risky to do this. I can't take the rejection. I'll let some braver soul do it next time."

But Galatians 6:9 says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

The hard truth is that not everyone is equally receptive to the gospel message. Jesus' parable of the seeds makes this point. The gospel seed falls on different types of soil: hard soil, rocky soil, thorny soil, and fertile soil. Some seed produces no fruit; other seed produces an abundance of fruit. Yet the farmer is responsible to keep sowing the seed.

Farmers know that it takes time for seeds to grow into healthy plants that will bear an abundant crop. So if we don't see immediate results, that doesn't mean our efforts have been futile. Most people need repeated exposure before they come to faith.

Lord, grant us patience to give you the time and space to do your life-producing work in others. Help us to keep planting and watering until you produce the harvest. Amen.

About the author — Dan Jongsma

Daniel Jongsma serves as an interim pastor in Fulton, Illinois. He has pastored congregations in Elmhurst and Fulton, Illinois; in Dearborn, Michigan; and in Nashville, Tennessee. Dan also served as a church planter in the Chicago area. He and his wife, Gloria, have three daughters and four grandchildren.

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