Dear Savior, during this month of August we are enjoying the bounty of the earth with fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and the anticipation of grain to sustain us. All of that combines to enrich our bodies and also to enrich our senses as we take it all in. Today remind us that through the Spirit’s power we can enrich the lives of others by bringing forth a bountiful crop of good works in our own lives and thus help You sustain eternal life among those who are spiritually starving. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE CHIEF SOWER
TEXT: Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Little kids love to ask: why? “Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why do I have to go to bed?” As a person gets older, the “why” questions change a bit, but we still have them. “Why did the stock market tank? Why did Mom get sick? Why did Grampa die so unexpectedly?” Implicit in our adult “why” questions is trying to understand the hidden ways of God.—After all, He’s all-powerful, He loves us, so why does He allow things to intrude into our safe little world and cause us hurt? Of course, the trick is: Don’t push the point when it comes to the hidden God. Focus on what He directly tells you in His Word, bask in His grace, and trust in His ultimate goodness. Otherwise, you’ll end up embittering yourself and your life. Scripture says it much more succinctly: “We walk by faith and not by sight.”
When dealing with kids, you can explain their “why” questions up to a certain point and then you finally have to conclude with: “I don’t know.” Usually, that is the same with “why” questions directed to God. However sometimes, if we carefully study the Bible and think deeply about it, we’re given fuller and richer glimpses into our God directed “whys”. I believe such is the case today as we ponder Christ’s parable of the Sower and the Seed. So, I ask you:
WHY DID GOD CREATE US OUT OF DIRT?
The very first human being, Adam, was created out of dirt. In Genesis it says: “God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground” but dust really means dirt, doesn’t it? When you think about it, that’s not very flattering. Yes, we know our bodies are made up of carbon, water, and other elements. Yes, we know that God breathed His breath into us and gave us an eternal soul and the gift of life. Yes, we know that all the rest of creation was simply called into existence via God’s powerful, creative Word force, but in our case He took extra time and energy and made us from existing dirt. But, why dirt? It doesn’t seem too uplifting.
In God’s original creation, everything fit together and interlocked perfectly so that it all functioned as a perfect machine. Dirt may appear very humble and nondescript when put in juxtaposition to skyscrapers, computers, or nuclear fusion. Dirt is probably just about the most humble “thing” on this entire planet. Yet, dirt is what sustains all physical life as we know it. The rise and fall of every society in human history can be directly traced to dirt. Babylon rose and flourished until the dirt that fed them played itself out. Rome was great because of fertile dirt. Once it ran out, they couldn’t feed themselves, had to import grain, fight more wars, and eventually their economy imploded and they fell. We know that humans were the crowning glory of God’s creation. Perhaps our being created from dirt was a humbling reminder of this truth? In any case, the world ultimately revolves around both dirt and human beings, not vice-versa.
Did you know that modern humans don’t really know exactly how to create really fertile dirt? I’ve read various articles on the subject. Some Amazonian Indians 800 years ago advanced their culture by creating their own form of dirt. But basically, it’s a mystery. You have to have the right elements in the right proportions, coupled with centuries of microbial interaction in order to make fertile dirt. And once it’s present, it’s easily lost. Erosion—wind, water, fires that denude the landscape, and just poor farming practices or the wrong crop can strip it away very quickly.
The simplistic view of the parable begs the question: “What kind of dirt are you?” In other words, where’s your heart at right now when you’re exposed to God’s Word of love and grace? Naturally, since we’re believers, we identify ourselves as the “good soil, producing a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” The problem I have with that simplistic view is this: “Have you ever thought that, looked at another, and then concluded: ‘My dirt’s better than your’s?” And if that’s the case, doesn’t that diminish Christ’s grace a bit? Cannot you then boast to Him: “I deserved Your seed of forgiving love because I was born with a more spiritual pedigree and/or I prepared my heart for it much better than that other fellow.”? How does that view square with Paul’s words: “By grace you are saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast.” ?
Why did God create us out of dirt? 1. To keep us humble. 2. To tie us to the entire creation. 3. To show us we’re totally dependent upon Him for everything. And 4. So that we could, by His undeserved love alone, bring forth fruits to His glory which help sustain humans beyond this life.
When Jesus explains this parable, He talks about the “kingdom of God.” That is, the Holy Christian Church, or all the believers in Christ. The seed is His gift of faith. It is planted by Him into the human heart, into dirt. The planting is good. The seed is good. The dirt is present. But, sometimes Satan follows after, like an ugly bird and digs out the seed before it can germinate. It never sunk in because it fell on the hard pathway. Then the same thing happens to the seed that falls upon the rocky places. With rain it sprouts quickly but it cannot drive down roots into rock. So when the scorching times of persecution come, the seed quickly dies. Then, sometimes the seed falls among thorns and thistles that eventually choke it out after it grows for a time. In that case, the soil, the dirt, was probably quite fertile, so fertile that it helped support prolific weeds. “The worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choked it, making it unfruitful.” The final example of dirt is, of course, that “good ground” I referred to earlier.
Christ used these four examples to illustrate the result of sowing the Gospel among mortal humans. We tell them: “God loves you. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you on a cross. He offers and gives you forgiveness for a hurting soul. He wants you to have the eternal life He purchased for you on the cross. Believe in Him and be saved.” We sow that gospel to the world and one of four results will occur among people who hear it. And of those four results, only one honors God and results in a saved soul that brings forth the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Since you and I, as of right now, belong to that latter group, we need to be grateful, thankful, humble, and constantly faithful to the Sower, Jesus Christ. And instead of rejoicing over the inherent quality of our dirt, we need to focus on the inherent quality of the Seed, of the continuous care exhibited by the Sower, and be thankful that He waters, weeds, and tends us daily. For only then will our fruits grow into maturity. Why did God create us out of dirt? So that His love would have a medium in which to grow and ultimately flourish for His glory and for the betterment of lost souls everywhere. Amen