Many are familiar with the parable of the Sower. It is found in Matthew 13:1–23, Mark 4:1–20, and Luke 8:4–15 – all the gospel stories except John (he was always the squirrelly one). This parable is well known as it describes the four different types of disciples – of which only one thrives. The types of soil describes the hearts of the disciples:
The first heart is compared to the path, which does not even have time to root before the seed (Gospel of Jesus) is stolen away by Satan.
The second heart is compared to rocky ground. This seed is received with joy, but over time it has no place to root and so it quickly falls away when troubles arise.
The third heart is like a seed sown amongst thorn bushes – the gospel sown amongst a heart which is filled with love of the things of the world and greed – and the seed is choked out.
Lastly, the fourth seed is sown into a heart with good soil – soil which has been prepared in humility and a desire for the Truth. Generally, English translations say in Mark 4:8: And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
Our focus today is upon the emboldened words: growing up and increasing. In the original Greek, two different verbs are used here: ἀναβαίνοντα and ⸀αὐξανόμενα. What makes this so interesting is that the first verb (ἀναβαίνοντα) is a present active participle – meaning the subject (the seed) is doing the ongoing action of growing up. This first verb indicates that the Word of God as compared to the seed is actively growing up – the growing is produced by itself – not by the soil. The second verb (αὐξανόμενα), however, is a present passive participle. In this second action, the Word of God is passively being grown by the soil (the disciple).
What this means is that the ones who receive the Word of God into their heart with humility and desire will thrive in producing a harvest – but not by their power alone, nor by the power of the Spirit alone. In all things, God desires a partnership with His people. His harvest is one of a combined effort, where He delights to work with us as we delight to work with Him. In that place where efforts meet, the harvest explodes to unimaginable proportions.
May we each strive out of the love and delight we have for our Heavenly Father as we meet Him in the growing.
Where is God asking you to meet Him today?