Loving Neighbors (5)
He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” Matthew 13.37
Sent like Jesus
Believers in Jesus have been sent like Him to bring near the Kingdom and love of God to the people of this world. This work involves us in relationships with all kinds of people, especially those we see week-in and week-out in our Personal Mission Field. By mastering a few basic disciplines – seeking, serving, and shepherding – we can position ourselves as agents of transforming grace to the people we see each day.
We have been redeemed and saved so that we might seek and advance the righteous, peaceable, and joyful rule of King Jesus through good works of love. All of Scripture guides us in learning which works are good. But by looking especially to Jesus – the roles He fulfilled and the works He did – we can picture ourselves as His followers, doing similar kinds of works.
Jesus explained that central to His mission of bringing near the Kingdom of love was the work of sowing the Word of God. This He undertook in a wide variety of ways and settings, formally and informally, in large groups and small, among those who despised Him as well as with those who had become His followers, in casual conversations and in designated times of instruction, in response to questions and as questions posed to others.
As sowing the Word was an important component of Jesus’ relationships, so it must be of ours as well. All believers should expect to become teachers of God’s Word (Heb. 5.12). Being able to sow the Word among those we are daily seeking, serving, and shepherding requires that we prepare well, anticipate clearly, and make the most of every opportunity to which the Lord brings us each day.
The Word of God is living and powerful, and it brings the life of Christ with it (Heb. 4.12; Jn. 6.63). The more we sow God’s Word into our relationships, the more His power will be at work to will and do of His good pleasure.
Preparing to sow
We will not be in a position to sow the Word in our Personal Mission Fields if we are not first of all sowing the Word into our own lives. Here there is no substitute for daily reading, meditation, and study in Scripture, for practicing those spiritual disciplines that let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly, so that we will be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us, and to teach or admonish others as needed (Ps. 119.9-11; 1 Pet. 3.15; Col. 3.16).
The Apostle Paul commands us to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly. Once again, we see why the practice of spiritual disciplines is so important. Without those daily disciplines of the Word – reading, meditation, and study – not only will we have little to sow into the lives of others, but our own lives will lack the credibility we need to share confidently and persuasively from the Word of God.
We must seek specific guidance from the Word for all aspects of our lives, both the inward life of our soul and the outward life of our relationships, roles, and responsibilities. The Word of God must become the lamp which guides our steps in every area of our lives (Ps. 119.105). Only then will we be ready to sow the Word as is appropriate into the lives of others.
Reading and meditating in God’s Word is a source of great delight and insight (Jer. 15.16; Ps. 36.9). If we feed here often, and feed deeply, God will use our time in His Word to equip us to sow it in our part of Christ’s Kingdom.
Sowing the Word
But what does that entail? How should we expect to sow the Word as part of our daily practice of relational disciplines?
First, by our lives. As followers of Christ we are called to bring holiness to completion in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7.1). We recall that loving God begins by fearing Him, and grows as we feed on His Law and all His Word. Feeding on Scriptures means the Word of God must inform, shape, and guide all aspects of our being in the world – our marriages and families, work, involvement in culture and politics, our hopes, aspirations, and dreams – everything.
The Bible is able to equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3.15-17), so it behooves us to search the Scriptures daily in order to discover its teaching for all aspects of our lives (Acts 17.11). As the Spirit of God, working with the Scriptures, shapes and molds us into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18), how we live our lives, in every area of our lives, will refract His indwelling presence in uniquely Biblical ways. Motivated by the hope of knowing and expressing God’s glory, we will bring our lives into line with Scripture, so that in every area of our lives we might do those good works that glorify God (Matt. 5.13-16; 1 Cor. 10.31).
As Peter suggests, such a way of living will pique the interest of others, prompting them to ask us to explain ourselves (1 Pet. 3.15). We can sow the Word into the lives of others as often as they express some interest in us – in what we believe or how we conduct ourselves.
But we should also look for opportunities to share the Word with others, to relate what we are learning from the Scriptures, or to offer Scriptural perspectives on the issues and events of the day. Don’t people do this with one another quite freely? Don’t they talk about new technologies they’re learning, important ideas they’re considering, or ways they are changing their thinking about this, that, or something else? Why should we exclude from such conversational fodder our own experience of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord?
We must also be ready with the Word of the Gospel to share, as often as the Lord gives us opportunity to do so. The first believers, chased out of their familiar surroundings by persecution, went everywhere “gossiping the Gospel,” as Michael Green so eloquently put it (Acts 8.1-4). Like them, and like our Lord Jesus Christ, we must prepare and be ready to sow the Word into all our relationships with others, as an explanation for our lifestyle and an invitation to new life in Christ.
Loving our neighbors means offering them the Bread of life through the Word of God. Take the Word with you in all you do, and you will always be ready to share its riches with the people in your Personal Mission Field.
1. What do you think of when “sowing the Word” comes to mind? How about in your own life?
2. Jesus was sent as a Sower. We have been sent in the same way He was sent (Jn. 20.21). How large a place does sowing the Word have in your life at this time?
3. How has your practice of the disciplines of the Word helped you to be more consistent as a sower of the Word?
Next steps – Preparation: What opportunities for sowing the Word will you have today? How should you prepare to sow the Word? Commit yourself to the Lord to be His witness, as He gives opportunity today.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.