Sowing The Lord’s Word
By Rich Carmicheal
"Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times" (Mark 4:8).
Good things happen when the Word of the Lord is sown on good soil. Consider just a few examples from the Bible of this truth:
When Josiah assembled the people and read the Book of the Law to them, he and all the people renewed themselves to the covenant and repented of their idolatry (2 Kings 23:1-25). When Ezra read aloud the Book of the Law to the people, and the Levites helped make the meaning clear, the people were grieved over their sin, and yet also rejoiced because the Lord had made His Word known to them (Neh. 8:2-12). When Jonah proclaimed the Lord’s message of judgment to the people of Nineveh, they believed the message, repented and were spared great destruction (Jonah 3:1-10). When the prophet Nathan delivered a message of rebuke from the Lord to David regarding his sin with Bathsheba, David repented, confessed his sin, and openly sought the forgiveness of the Lord (2 Sam. 12:1-13; Psa. 51).
On the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter preached, warned and pleaded with the crowd and about three thousand people were saved (Acts 2:40-41). Soon after, "many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand" (Acts 4:4). An Ethiopian eunuch was saved when Philip, in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit, explained a passage from Isaiah to him (Acts 8:26-38). In Philippi, Paul and his companions spoke the Lord’s message to some women who had gathered at the river and Lydia and the members of her household were saved (Acts 16:13-15). While in prison Paul and Silas spoke the word of the Lord to the jailer, and he and his household were saved (Acts 16:29-34). In Thessalonica, Paul shared the Gospel message and the people "turned from idols to serve the living and true God" (1 Thess. 1:9). Timothy’s grandmother and mother had passed their faith on to him (2 Tim. 1:5) as he was blessed from infancy to "have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation..." (2 Tim. 3:15).
Of course there are many other such examples, but these illustrate the impact the Word of the Lord can make as it is read, preached, taught, explained, shared, and otherwise passed on to others. The few passages above point out that the Word leads people to repentance, confession, joy, deliverance, wisdom, salvation and to service to the Lord. Other passages add that the Word impacts people’s lives in many other ways. For example, it revives the soul (Psa. 19:7); provides counsel (Psa. 119:24); provides encouragement and hope (Rom. 15:4); creates faith (John 20:31; Rom. 10:17); grants assurance of salvation (1 John 5:13); helps in overcoming sin (Psa. 119:11); sanctifies (John 17:17); helps in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:17); helps one distinguish good from evil (Heb. 5:14); warns (1 Cor. 10:11); develops reverence for the Lord (Deut. 4:10); provides light, direction and guidance (Psa. 119:105); gives understanding (Psa. 119:169); nourishes (1 Pet. 2:2); strengthens (Psa. 119:28); keeps one pure (Psa. 119:9); teaches, rebukes, corrects, trains in righteousness and equips for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16); brings freedom (John 8:31-32); builds one up (Acts 20:32); and provides a strong foundation for the storms of life (Matt. 7:24-25).
In light of the awesome power of the Word of the Lord, we must consider it a tremendous privilege and responsibility that the Lord entrusts His Word to you and me and calls us to share that Word with others. The Apostle Paul states that the Lord "...has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us...." (2 Cor. 5:19-20). The Apostle Peter adds, "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God" (1 Pet. 4:11). What an awesome responsibility and privilege. We have the opportunity to be used by the Lord to sow the seed of His Word, seed that will bear fruit in people’s lives! As the Lord states, "[My Word] will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isa. 55:11).
Who are the people in your life with whom the Lord would have you share His Word? Your children or grandchildren? Other family members? Neighbors? Co-workers or fellow students? Brothers and sisters in Christ? The Lord, of course, desires that we share the message of salvation with the unsaved, and also a message of edification to the saved. If we desire to become more effective in sharing the Word of the Lord with others, here are two characteristics we must develop:
1. Share Out of the Overflow of Your Heart
In order to bless others with the Word of God, we must first of all be blessed ourselves by His Word. As Jesus states, "...For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him..." (Matt. 12:34-35). Thus, Paul writes, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom..." (Col. 3:16). Our time with the Lord and His Word fills our hearts in such a way that His love and His Word overflow toward others. It is out of this overflow that others are truly impacted. If we are not walking with the Lord and His Word in a way that we have such an overflow, we must turn to Him immediately. Otherwise, not only will we suffer, but many others will not receive the blessing the Lord desires to give them through our lives.
As we allow the Word to fill our own lives, we also develop the godly character that will make others more receptive to our message. The Apostle Paul’s ministry among the Thessalonians provides a wonderful illustration of the importance of godly character in connection with sharing the Word of the Lord: "...we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.... You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God..." (1 Thess. 2:7-12). Notice the connection between the message and one’s character in these passages as well: "...speaking the truth in love..." (Eph. 4:15); "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Col. 4:6); "Those who oppose him he must gently instruct" (2 Tim. 2:25); "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction" (2 Tim. 4:2). "...Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Pet. 3:15).
In other words, it is not just the content of the message we share, but it is also the heart with which we share it. There seems to be much truth in a familiar saying: "People will not care what you know until they know that you care."
2. Continually Seek the Lord’s Enabling and Blessing
Our effectiveness in sharing the Lord’s Word is also directly related to the guidance, enabling and blessing He provides. For example, Paul shared with the Thessalonians that his successful ministry among them was because "our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction..." (1 Thess. 1:5). Similarly, he shared with the Corinthians, "I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power" (1 Cor. 2:3-4). He also pointed out that whereas he planted and Apollos watered, it was God who brought the growth (1 Cor. 3:6).
Although the Lord uses us to help sow His Word, only He can produce spiritual growth. For example, as Paul shared with Lydia in Philippi, it was the Lord who "opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message" (Acts 16:14). It is the work of the Holy Spirit to "convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment..." (John 16:8). This truth should keep us ever earnest in seeking the Lord for the work of His Spirit as we share His Word.
We are encouraged by Scripture to also seek the Lord for boldness in sharing His Word with others. Paul writes, "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel" (Eph. 6:19). The early church provides this wonderful example: "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your Word with great boldness.... After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly" (Acts 4:29-31).
The Lord has entrusted to us the precious gift of His Word which can impact the lives of others, both now and for eternity. May we earnestly seek Him for His enabling and blessing so that we may share that Word effectively. Let us make the most of every opportunity!
Lord, may Your Word flow through our words and lives to impact the people around us, as well as people we can reach in far off places. Amen.