Are you growing or withering?
If you are my age you are probably thinking, Yep, I have reached my full physical potential. It is only downhill from here!
But what about spiritually? Are you growing or withering?
Jesus asked this same kind of question through the parable of the Seeds in Matthew 13.1-23.
The "Wayside" Hearer
This first seed never even makes it to the plot of soil. They fall by the wayside on the way to the planting. This person has a closed mind about Jesus, faith, maybe even religion. They may be callused to it or jaded by someone who called themselves a Christian. For whatever reason, they only let the Gospel of Jesus only touch the surface. Then, like the birds, Satan takes that seed away so it never goes more than skin deep. He does this by making the world look more favorable than Jesus. Or he plants his own seed in its place called Guilt, Shame, Unworthiness, or Cynicism.
The Emotional Hearer
This seed is gladly planted within the soil, but no roots are ever created. There is no growth. The Emotional Hearer is excited about becoming a believer, but because all human emotions ebb and flow, they lose their fervor for the Lord. Did you ever go to church camp as a kid and you left feeling so spiritually high like you had just touched heaven, just to return to the "real world" and fall back into spiritual apathy? This is because no roots had taken hold to ground you against the wind and rain that will surely come in any believer's life. The earth you are planted in is stony, meaning the soil is shallow. When life gets deep and serious, you wither instead of grow.
The Hearer with the Wandering Mind
This Hearer heard the Good News and accepted Jesus as his Savior, and his roots ran deep. There is so much potential for a beautiful flower because of the strength of the roots, but nothing is springing up. This believer is burdened with unsure how to be a Christian in a non-Christian world, pulled between pleasing both, so they are stagnant in their growth. But like any flower, they aren't really stagnant, they are withering.
Everything is either growing or withering. You, me, the flowers. When we think we have reached our full potential and don't feel the need to grow and learn more, we begin to slowly wither.
But our spirit has the capacity to grow and grow, unlike our physical bodies or the flowers. We can't know our Lord well enough, until we see Him face to face. He gives us an endless flow of Grace and Love that abounds more and more. So far, these Hearers did not understand that, but the next one did.
The Hearer with the Understanding Mind
"The seed entered the whole soul, filling the mind, heart, conscience, and will."* This Hearer understood God's invitation and His call. He fully received it. Their roots are deep. Their flower is in full bloom soaking more of the Light and blessing others with their beauty. Their spirit is in communion with God's, which by the way, is how we were all created to be - in communion with God. You will never be complete without that.
One of these seeds chose to follow the lies of the devil.Three out of four of these seeds accepted Jesus as their Saviour. But only one of these became fruitful and fulfilled.
Jesus came so that we would have life, and that we would have it more abundantly. There is no safer place than in His will. There is no better place than growing in His grace.
Everyone, believer or non-believer, falls into one of these categories.
The one who rejected Christ.
The one who received Him, but never really knew Him.
The one who received Him, but tried to please everyone.
The one who received Him, and lived abundantly beside Him.
I can identify with all of these at one point in my life. Maybe you can too. But the Lord has graced me with very real moments in His presence. I have known perfect Peace. I have felt His Love. And I pray that you will know Him too.
* Quote and outline from Dr. Herbert Lockyer's, All the Parables of the Bible. (1963)