Listen! The sower went out to sow.” —Mark 4:3
The sower’s work is unimpressive. Try to picture the sower scattering the seed by hand. He walks 20 miles in a day, up and down the same field, and when he comes home his legs are tired and his arms are aching.
He looks back over the field, and it strikes him that after all his work the field looks exactly the same as it did that morning. Nothing has changed. He has worked all day, and what does he have to show for it? His effort hasn’t made any observable difference.
This is the hidden pressure of all spiritual work. I sometimes envy the guys who work in construction. At the end of the day you can see what you accomplished. But open the Word with your small group and sometimes you wonder if you’ve done anything at all!
Remember the Beatles’ song “Eleanor Rigby”?
Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name.
Father Mackenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave.
No one was saved.
Anyone who pours their energy into sharing the gospel knows what this is like: you work hard to sow the seed of the Word. But what comes of it?
How does the sower sustain himself in this work? How does he (or she) keep going? By having great confidence in the seed. The sower continues his work, because he is deeply convinced that the seed he is planting will bring a harvest pleasing to God.
I’ve been greatly helped by seeing that the doctrine of Scripture is not just what the Bible is (it is the word of God), but what the Bible does (it does the work of God).
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” —Psalm 19:7-8
This Word is perfect, trustworthy, right, and radiant…that’s what the Scripture is. It revives the soul, makes the simple wise, gives joy to the heart, and light to the eyes…that’s what the Scripture does! And it does these things precisely because the Word of God is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword.
How do you sustain a ministry of the Word to your small group? Have confidence in this seed. Believe what Jesus is telling us here—this is how God’s kingdom comes. This is how Christ’s church is established. This is how lives are changed in every culture and generation.