By Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair
The Parable of the Sower is found in the three synoptic gospels: Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8.
Let’s review where the seed falls. Some fell on the path and the birds came and ate it. Some fell on the rocky soil and while it grew quickly it withered away because it couldn’t grow roots. Some fell among weeds and the good plants were choked by them. Some fell on fertile soil and produced a hundred-fold yield.
Let’s now add some context to this story. Most Galileans, like most people in the Roman Empire, were rural farmers. Many ancient sources speak of plowing fields before sowing, but others clearly speak of sowing before plowing and Jesus chooses the latter in presenting this parable. Much of the soil in the Holy Land is rocky. There is thistle (thorns) that is common around roads and can reach more than three feet, typically in the month of April. The average yield of seed in ancient Israel was probably between seven and a half to tenfold. Finally, ancient legal sources show that feuding, rival farmers occasionally did sow poisonous plants (called darnel) in one another’s fields.
Jesus explains this parable to his disciples. This parable pertains to the individual’s response to the Word of God. One hears and doesn’t understand, and the word is snatched away. One hears and initially responds with joy but only for a little while. One hears but clings to the things of this world. One hears and understands and a harvest is produced.
So what does stewardship have to do with this parable?
Sowing seeds starts the process of growth and we all should be good stewards of God’s Word as we sow this seed in the kingdom here on earth.
Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” A biblical understanding of stewardship rests on the foundation that God is the creator and owner of all things. We really don’t own anything. What we have comes from the Lord. All that we have and all that we are is a gift from God. We belong to him.
1 Chronicles 29:14 says, (David prays) “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.” We can however, return to God a portion of that which is God’s and we offer this portion not out of duty, but as a response to God’s gracious love for us.
Stewardship is not a particular once-a-year church activity. It is a way of life that puts God first in all things. Jesus is the very model of stewardship. He used the gifts God entrusted him with to teach, preach, and heal.
When we listen to appeals for better stewardship of our money, our hearts may be like one of the soils. Some hearts may be likened to the hard path where the seed of the stewardship message can easily be devoured. Some hearts may be like a rock that at first allows the appeal for stewardship to gain a brief but rootless hold on our hearts, but which later results in shriveled support for faithful stewardship because of the temptation of other uses of our money. Some hearts may be the thorny “plants”, i.e. concerns, riches, and pleasures that choke out the good fruit of faithful, committed stewardship. Some hearts may be like good soil that provides fertile ground for spiritual growth through faithful stewardship of our money.
We should ask: What is my heart like? Where will my heart lead me as I consider how best to use my money and my talents, essentially my gifts from God?