Care for the Spirit like you would care for a plant.
“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.
Are you white rice or brown rice?
“Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop–thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times what was sown.” -Mark 4:20
White rice cannot reproduce. If you plant it in the ground, it will do nothing.
White rice is meant for food, not for planting. Its purpose is nothing more than one tiny, tiny piece of your meal. So small you don’t even need to chew it.
Brown rice, on the other hand, will grow if you plant it–often bearing over 1,000 new grains in a single season. It still has its germ–the key ingredient for reproduction.
So what’s the original difference between brown and white rice? Do they come from different plants? Or is brown bred in a special way so that it can be used as seed?
Brown rice and white rice come from the same plant. There is no difference in how it is grown. There is no difference in how it is harvested. The difference is in how it is processed.
Brown rice is only shaken away from its chaff before going to the market–the bran and the germ are left. But white rice stays in production a little longer. After the chaff is removed, it continues to be cleaned, and even polished, before it is packaged and sold. It completely loses its bran and its germ.
So what kind of rice are you? If your Christian life consists of attending church, getting purified day by day, but never sharing–never getting planted–you might be getting whiter and whiter, and losing your ability to grow. You might become one very fine looking Christian–good enough to eat!–but you will never bear fruit.
You do not have to be purified to the maximum level in order to be planted. You do not have to stay in church, working on yourself year after year, until you attain some level of perfection high enough to become a suitable seed. In fact, the sooner you get out, the better. It’s often the newest Christians that make the most converts, just like it’s the lightly-processed seeds that grow the best.
One rice seed can turn into 1,000 in a single year. What could you do if you were planted?