Consider a moment the farmlands of Israel in Jesus’ day. Rather than thousands of acres of rolling plains where the seed is sown and harvested by machinery they were plots of ground with an edging of ‘wayside’ (downtrodden) soil around the plots.
These edges allowed the farmer and travellers traversing across the fields to walk upon them without harming the structure of the soil. For generations, feet had downtrodden such wayside soil, it had never been ploughed or tendered.
Although it may be good soil it would need a lot of care in order to seed it and produce a hundred-fold harvest. Wayside soil is so hardened and packed it lacks oxygen. Water runs off it. Any seed that falls here simply stays on the hard-packed earth until the birds of the air pluck it up.
Jesus likens wayside soil, not only to a hardened mind but also to one that lacks understanding. It also acts as a warning of how diligent we must be with our own mind, to be mindful, to keep it alive, creative, fresh and fertile, teachable and easily entreated, well ploughed and ready to receive the Word of God (Ezk 2:4; 3:7).
Let Wisdom Have Her Perfect Work
Proverbs teach that a woman called Wisdom cries out to simple folk at the crossroads, where daily decisions are made. For example, wise people are giving sound advice continually, wherever people meet and talk. Wisdom makes her boast of bestowing riches, honour and long life; wisdom comes from having a mind that under-stands rather than over-stands.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A proud mind has no understanding. Understanding comes from listening to wise counsel. It requires applying the Word of God to the circumstances of our lives, choosing the right way making the right decisions, and walking in the light. It means choosing to walk in the right direction (Prov. 1:20-25).
Be Fruitful and Multiply
The farmer who goes out to sow the seed must first be a partaker of the fruit (2 Tim 2:6). In other words, the seed one carries to others is the result of fruitfulness in our own lives. It is no good for us preaching on repentance, (turning around), active faith, or walking in the Spirit when we are not living in those truths ourselves. Only what we possess can we give away.
As farmers working in God’s fields, we would do well to consider and understand why people do the things they do. In evangelism, it is no use us reacting to their reactions. To understand why they are reacting so negatively to the gospel will help to make us become a link for them. In helping seeking people discover the answer their healing that they seek can manifest.
Wayside, hardened, downtrodden soil
This kind of soil is easily discernible. The impenetrable steely eyes and hard-line of jaw and lips are all signs of hurt and pain. This condition is often due to abandonment and rejection. We have already learned in another paper published here about leprosy eating away on the inside of the victim.
Soil needs water
This kind of compacted soil is in any age group or culture. It is best prepared for future sowing by watering, through prayer and intercession. The word ‘intercession’ means ‘to come alongside and lift’. To intercede on behalf of people means doing practical ministry.
Break up the Soil
Teach scripture in small bite sizes: easily digested. When coupled with genuine love and acceptance this help to break up and oxygenate the downtrodden soil. For example, nothing beats a caring extended family environment for today’s youth.
When this type of fresh readily dug soil in the hearts of the believer is encountered by those hurt by life, when they begin to mix with believers walking in the spirit of God’s immeasurable love, forgiveness will break up the hard wayside soil. The result will be a repentant heart towards God (Psalm 51).
My ministry took me into the streets mainly amongst youth that was in crisis. As well as accommodating up to nine of them in my home at any one time, I would hold an ‘open house’ twice a month. Up to thirty young people would attend.
The open house was strictly for youths in the church that did not have caring parents, or those living alone or off the streets. In this way, it acted as an outreach for street kids.
There is a fantastic opportunity for those in evangelism to create this sort of environment: food for the body and spirit, fellowship, and fun with steady solid, down-to-earth Christian workers involved. However, as was my experience, churches do not assist those with a heart for this kind of ministry. They alone are left to carry the burden with a few hard workers and to bear the burden financially.
One man, a greengrocer in the church where I carried out this type of ministry offered for me to come to his shop once a week and choose a box of veg and fruit at no charge. Everyone can help to sow the seed and bring in its harvest.
How wonderful, how beautiful when the body has a good relationship with itself (Psalm 133:1: Patricia’s paraphrase).
I suggest we stop putting our money in a bag passed around. We have no idea where it goes. Instead, sow seed where we’ve been planted. What can you and I do?
If not me, then who? And if not now, when?
Coming into a church service can be a culture shock for those unused to it. Entering a warm and welcoming home environment is not so confronting.
Any gardener knows that once hardened soil is broken up, it can be nourished and fed and will produce a harvest. A hard heart is replaced by a heart full of thanks as we give praise to God. This is called giving to God the fruit of our lips.
By giving thanks to God the Creator through our Jesus Christ our Protector, Provider and Saviour, the resurrection power of God is released through love; it brings hope.
Hope is the anchor of our souls. It conveys security. This kind of sowing in love brings reaping with joy. It causes souls to be born again, set free from the condemnation of the law of sin-and-death brings.
The Holy Spirit is the one who teaches us how to sow and reap. We must always turn to God who gives wisdom and counsel. Ask and we shall receive.
Have a heart
Downtrodden soil has been pressed down by the sheer weight of the feet that pass over it. In the main thoroughfares of life, we will find downtrodden soil. Other people’s opinions are important to those with downtrodden soil. They are fearful and sceptical.
Some are lost
For some, the greed of other things, position, and power, love of this world, enter in and believers fall away. Instead of servanthood, they seek a name, identity with the world, prestige, public approval, money. All the trappings of outward adorning become more important than God’s approval.
Give Love a Chance
Living by the ‘sweat of our brow’ is living under a curse, relating to the first creation and the fall. The believer is a new creation. Old things passed away. I’m not saying stop work. All I am saying is give God a chance to use us. Lift up our heads and look around. What is that in our hand? Give what we have, not what we don’t have.
Natural Creation by Design
Now, in the natural, all of creation is at work to disperse seed, such as birds, animals, snails, fish, tortoises, alligators, bats, wind, water and even ants. Some seeds are hitchhikers, like the burr and attach themselves to wool and travel all over the world. Some have wings to help the wind carry them.
There is a plant called ‘dwarf mistletoe’, in the USA. It is worth mentioning for what it could symbolize here. Pressure builds up in the womb of this seed as water passes in one direction across its membranes. The pressure then causes a building up inside that literally blasts the seeds out over distances of up to forty-eight feet with an initial velocity of about sixty miles per hour.
For our exercise here these natural examples might be likened to the Word of God at work in a person’s mind when it receives continual watering of the Word, kind deeds, and the like. Faith in the Word builds up until finally, there is no holding it in or down.
New Wine and New Wine Skins
That is how churches and new ministries are brought into being. New wine and new wineskins produce revival that will blow the cork off any denominational bottle. Any doctrine that is attempting to subdue and control the Holy Spirit’s power in an individual’s lives will fall away.
Enemies of the Gospel
Just as the birds and all other creatures assist in scattering seed, so too do the enemies of the gospel. These are people who have a personal stake in not wanting others to be saved. They will attempt to steal away the seed sown. The main work of these people is to afflict and persecute the believer. This is in their attempt to stop the Word from taking root in the seeker’s mind.
Remember, Jesus Christ upholds all things by the Word of his enabling (power). Without the Word of God taking root deep in our mind, we will be a woman or a man of doubtful reasoning, being of a double mind, unstable in all our ways.
When the Word of God is sown, its enemy comes immediately to steal it from the hearers (Mk 4:15). It is easily done if their minds are as ‘wayside soil’. Wayside soil will not yield any growth; the word disappeared before it even has time to germinate. These people need a change of attitude before they can receive the Word of God. This is able to save their souls. This kind of soul-winning generally requires friendship evangelism.
Now I’m free Lord, Now I’m free. I’ve flown free from the coup. I’m free as a bird. You’ve broken their feeble self-apportioned puny fabricated authority. Look up. See that bird? We’re as free as that bird in flight (Ps 124:7 (Patricia’s paraphrase).
Next time: Uncultivated Soil
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