The Parable of the Seed
It is pretty heavy stuff to be told that knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to us. As I reflect on the parable of the seed, I realize that I am often the seed that falls among the thorns. I am thankful that I haven’t been robbed of the good news by the Devil and I am not tempted to abandon my roots. I hang in there with my faith, but I don’t think I bear much mature fruit. There are times when I bear the fruit of a good and generous heart, but in so many ways, I also get choked by thorns and weeds. It is a constant struggle for me to persevere. I get consumed by the anxieties of this life or the many pleasures that distract me from my anxieties. Maybe the parable speaks loudly to me today because the constant rain here in Omaha this summer has kept me pulling, cutting, clipping, and whacking away at weeds in my yard. My battles with weeds and thorns serve as a reminder of my spiritual battles. As I persevere in the war against weeds, I ask myself the question, “what does it mean to persevere in the production of mature fruit of the spirit?” In Galatians 5:22-23 we learn that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Here is a check list I made for myself to keep me focused.
Love: Am I loving God with all my heart and strength today? Can I work at it vigorously to build a stronger, more loving heart? Real loving is an energizing workout, not just a convenient relaxing break in the day. Do I persevere when the going gets tough?
Gentleness: That is easy. I have a puppy and was told that he needs several 5 minute breaks of total gentle caresses each day. Guess what? Those gentle times are good for me too. Gentleness is as good for our physical health as it is for our spiritual health.
Peace: Being at peace means not in a state of anxiety. Anxiety is a real worm in the fruits of the spirit. We need to be in a state of peacefulness to do our best work, to enjoy good relationships, and to rest.
Patience: Can I stay faithful and keep God’s commandments even when it seems like I am not getting any rewards? Impatience is a thorn that makes it impossible to persevere.
Faithfulness: This is the steadiness with which we persevere. Every day I have to do something that I don’t want to do and something that is difficult for me. That doesn’t ruin my day. It enables me to accomplish what is expected of me. Faithfulness is an expression of confidence.
Self-Control: I think about the verse in Proverbs 25:28: “A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out.” It means that you have no stability or security. And yet, most of us, including me, are responsible for much of the insecurity in our own lives as a result of too little self-discipline. We protect ourselves when we control our impulses.
Joy: That one is easy for me too since I am basically a happy person. But I know that a lot of people struggle to keep on the sunny side. I think that to persevere in joyfulness, we must remain thankful for all that we have, even our adversities.
Goodness: We often talk about others as “good” people. To some it seems like a boring trait that is often used to define “good Christian people,” but I think it would be one of the nicer things I would want others to say about me. I guess that is why where I come from, people always say “Be Good” when they say goodbye.
Kindness: Showing kindness to someone everyday is a motto to which many of us subscribe, but being known as a kind person takes a lot more perseverance. It also requires a tough balancing act because so often others equate kindness with lowered expectations. As a professor, I am constantly challenged to achieve balance in this area.
I keep this list of fruits on my bathroom mirror like pilots keep their take-off check list on their airplane visors. I go through them before I “take off” everyday. I hope a review of the list is helpful to others and pray that we may all persevere. Isn’t it great to know that knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to us?
By Barbara Dilly