Today is May 15, but as I write these words the temperature outside is 53° on a Thursday morning. The sky is cloudy, and the low that is forecasted for tonight is 46°. I planted a few seeds last weekend that haven’t yet germinated, and I am wondering if there is enough sun to make them pop out of the ground. Planting seeds is a delicate business. If you plant them too early in the season, they will not germinate, and you will have to plant them again. But if you plant them too late in the year, when it is hot and there is little moisture in the ground, the plants will not have the root system to survive and they will wither away and die. If my seeds do not germinate, I will have another chance to try planting them again. And if that does not work, there is always next year.
There are other seeds that ought to concern us more than fruits and vegetables. In Walden Henry David Thoreau writes about the seeds of “sincerity, truth, simplicity, faith, innocence, and the like.” He asks,
Why concern ourselves so much about our beans for seed, and not be concerned at all about a new generation of men? We should really be fed and cheered if when we met a man we were sure to see that some of the qualities which I have named, which we all prize more than those other productions, but which are for the most part broadcast and floating in the air, had taken root and grown in him.
Farming is a matter of priorities, and spiritual seed should come before organic seed.
God has entrusted children to their parents for spiritual development. The Psalmist says they are a “gift of the Lord” and compares them to “arrows in the hand of a warrior” (Ps. 127:3-4). If they are “arrows,” then they need to be aimed in the direction of God. The church may equip parents with tools, and the schools may help to educate them, but the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” is the ultimate responsibility of parents (Eph. 6:4).
Conversion begins with the planting of the seed (Luke 8:11). If that is true, then the church should be busy cultivating the young, tender plants that have germinated due to its evangelistic efforts. Too often, new converts are neglected because churches assume they can handle the pressures of being a Christian as well as seasoned members of the body of Christ. Not only does that go against common sense, but it ignores an important biblical principle: God gave churches leaders to equip, build up, and shepherd the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11–12).
And while I am on the subject of leaders, let’s not forget to cast seeds of character and qualification throughout our churches so that the next generation will not be devoid of good elders, deacons, and preachers to lead the church into the next era. We should be encouraging our young men to serve as elders. We should be encouraging our young ladies to teach and model the Christian lifestyle so that they will be good influences on those who look up to them.
Much satisfaction comes from planting a garden, but we have to keep our priorities in order. First let’s be sure we are casting the seeds of the gospel and then we may plant our vegetables.