Saturday, January 24, 2009

Grace Given as the Sower Sows the Seed

Last Thursday night we got together for our church study of the Gospel of Mark. We were discussing the parables of the seeds, particularly the parable of the soils. Pastor Ken pointed out that the Sower is Jesus; the seed (as it says in His explanation to the disciples) is the Word; of course the varied soil represents the various levels of responsiveness in the hearts of men. At some point someone mentioned grace is one of those words that to me is cloaked somewhat in mystery; it is one of those tools that God uses that is unseen and I think not fully grasped by humanity, or at least by this frail human. The mention of grace got me thinking, stumbling a little over that subject...thinking that the Pharisees had not been given grace, while the disciples had. Why would God pick and choose to whom He gave grace, if He didn't play favorites?
After pondering it, I realized from our study that He doesn't do either: He doesn't dole out grace selectively, and He doesn't play favorites. Pastor Ken pointed out that the sower sows the seed over all the soil. I pictured the sower throwing the seed with kind of a wild abandon, not like the typical earthly farmer, who would be careful to put it in the most fertile soil only, because his seed is limited. God has no limits; His grace abounds; He longs for all to be saved. So He can cast His seed far and wide, over any type of soil, in hope that it might take root in the most unlikely of places.
God says in His Word that He loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). I remember hearing that the word in the original language means "hilarious." In other words, not sparingly and measured, but as if there were no end to one's resources. I think of it something like a person who celebrates, throwing confetti into the air--it goes everywhere. Did you ever see anyone putting confetti out carefully? It is just not done. So it is with the hilarious giver, and with the hilarious Sower of the seed. Well, if we're giving according to what God supplies, that makes sense. And if God expects it of us, He provides the example for us in the way that He gives. So I see Him sowing the seed hilariously, with abandon, pretty much like we throw confetti--but His bag of confetti is endless! It doesn't bother Him that some is sown on the path, where the birds will eat it up. He sows it there anyway. Who knows but that there might be one little soft spot, one little crevice, where one seed of so many might fall and take root?
2 Corinthians 9:6-12 contains one of the most beautiful assurances for believers, and I had even forgotten until just now when I looked it up that it started out with reference to sowing. How fitting! Here is what it says: "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, 'HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.'
"Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God."

God's grace, and His Word, doesn't get received by all the soil, but it is given. It is cast abroad. Everyone has the opportunity to know and respond to God, but not everyone avails themselves of doing so. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hand, Psalm 19:1 says. Since that is the case, His glory is there for all to see! He doesn't play favorites. And He multiplies our seed for sowing, because He has an endless supply, giving it by His abundant grace to anyone who would receive.
So grace is there for everyone. It abounds. If we don't receive it, we only have ourselves to blame. Hallelujah!

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