“Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed.'” -Matthew 13:3
As the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 tells you, the Christian life can be compared to a plant. The seed falls, sprouts, and grows to some extent. But the conditions surrounding the plant affect its growth.
The conditions that you provide for the Spirit in your life will affect the extent to which it can grow in you.
A few months ago, I planted some passion fruit seeds in a plastic water bottle. For 10 days I faithfully watered it, until I saw a sprout. The sprout kept growing, and I kept watering it, every day. A few more sprouts popped up. They got bigger and bigger, but they were still just little sprouts.
Soon, I had to leave for a three-week trip to Myanmar.
I thought, well, these sprouts are getting bigger. And it rains several times a week. Maybe they’ll be fine if I leave them alone for a few weeks.
Today, I have no passion fruit plants. On the day I returned from Myanmar I looked in the bottle and found each of them dead. The only living thing was a new blade of grass.
I watered the dead sprouts again, each day, for a few days, but with no change. The passion fruit was gone.
Maybe the illustration of the plant should be understood more thoroughly. Maybe the Spirit growing in us really is like an actual seed. If it is, then we have to be very intentional, very consistent, about caring for it.
Sometimes, I hear a sermon, or read something, or have a wonderful conversation about spiritual things, and my heart is touched. Something is planted. And I can see how this thing, this idea, this truth, this Spirit, could change my whole life.
But afterward, I don’t care for it. I don’t give that Spirit the conditions to grow. I meet other people, and resist bringing the Spirit into that new conversation. I figure it doesn’t make sense without the context, or that they wouldn’t be interested.
And then I fail to take time privately to dwell on it, or to pray about it.
And then I go to sleep, and the next morning it’s as if I’d just returned from three weeks in Myanmar.
Don’t kill the Spirit. It isn’t planted easily. Each time is special.
When you receive it, care for it. Bring it into conversation. Dwell with it in private. Change your life for it.
And it will grow.