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On your Mark

The good soil

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, NIV)

Jesus’ words had fallen on the Pharisees and teachers of the Law — but they proved themselves to be nonreceptive, a beaten path.

The adoring crowds responded joyfully at first flush, but when tough times or difficult teaching came, they faded away. Did they ever even know they were the rocky ground?

Some followed Jesus longer, but then became distracted with other things. Their affections faded, choked out by the thorns of this world’s cares and pursuits.

What if there were no fourth response, no persons willing to be good soil? Jesus’ mission would have failed — then, and now.

Clearly, Jesus risked everything by taking disciples. If they proved to be poor learners, rebellious, careless, reckless, inattentive, lethargic or self-centered, where would the world be today? We never would have even heard about Jesus, His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.

We would know nothing about His teaching — no Sermon on the Mount, no Lord’s Prayer, no “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We never would have heard of the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, the Lost Sheep, or a host of other stories that conveyed earthly and eternal truth. We wouldn’t know how to live now, how to have our sins forgiven, or how to go to heaven.

But in our generation there are far more people who know little or nothing about Jesus than the population of the first-century world into which the first disciples — the “good soil” followers of Christ — came. Will you and I prove to be the good soil in our homes, our neighborhoods, schools and workplaces?

When we share our faith, some of what we share will always fall on good ground.

It was that way with Ray and Helen. I met them years ago in a South American country. They had served 30 years as missionaries and single-handedly translated the entire Bible into the language of the largest indigenous people group in that land.

I asked them what it had been like in the beginning.

ÒOh,Ó they said, Òit was very difficult. We moved into a village to learn the language, but the witch doctor told everyone not to talk with us. It took us two years to make our first friend. He was willing to teach us the language.Ó

Their home church cut off their missionary support because the pastor felt they didn’t have enough results. That pastor didn’t understand that simply because the seed doesn’t sprout up right way does not mean it’s infertile.

This missionary couple not only learned the language and translated the Bible, they created the orthography for the language. Until they came, the language of this Indian people had been oral; it had never been written down.

They told me, “Now we are retiring, but today there are thousands of believers and scores of churches.”

Fortunately, they did not make a premature assessment that the ground into which they witnessed was unproductive soil. What if Ray and Helen had stopped sowing too soon, or had never sown at all?

May we be good soil so that we also become good sowers who produce a bountiful harvest for the Master!

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, I don’t want to be among those who don’t have time for You, who start but don’t finish, who let other things get in the way of following You with a whole heart. I want to be as productive as possible for You.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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