Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
William Barclay tells of a Pastor H. L. Gee, who had in his church a lonely elderly man, Old Thomas, who had outlived all his friends. Gee went to the funeral, thinking no one else would come. He was right, but at the cemetery a soldier stepped to the grave side, saluted as if acknowledging a king, and told Gee, “Years ago Thomas was my Sunday School teacher. I was a wild lad and a sore trial to him. He never knew what he did for me. I owe everything I am or will be to Old Thomas. Today I had to come salute him at the end.”
Thomas never dreamed how far-reaching his efforts would prove to be. None of us know how far ripples flow from pebbles we cast into people’s lives. Our duty is to never give up or grow discouraged. Sow, leaving results to God.
Matt. 13:23 (Holman) “But the one sown on the good ground–this is one who
hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields:
some 100, some 60, some 30 times what was sown.”
Soil is made to receive, germinate, and grow seed. If we cast seed long enough and far-flung enough, some of it will fall on receptive soil and grow.
Ten years ago, October 15, 1997, our church voted in a business meeting to adopt an unreached people group, the Bells of the Big Country. We voted to work (cast seed if you will) among the Bells for 20 years. I remember thinking we could win a whole country in 20 years. I began optimistic, became pessimistic, and am now realistic. When we started, there were only ten known Bell believers. Now, a decade later, there are about a hundred. At a recent missions conference, I shared these numbers, thinking I was telling a story with a happy ending, but the emcee of the meeting was depressed by it, and urged the crowd to stay faithful, even when it’s as hard as it has been in reaching the Bells. Whichever is correct, my gladness or his gloom, the point is to stay faithful in casting seed. Second Baptist has been casting seed among the Bells for ten years, and some of it is beginning to succeed.
When dealing with unbelieving family, friends, and people groups, refuse to quit. It may take time for God’s seed to germinate in a person’s heart. Something spoken this year may take hold next year. A word cast on a boy may germinate in the man; a seed planted in a girl may bloom in the woman. Keep sowing.
Matthew 13:24-26 He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared.”
Thus begins the parable of the wheat and the weeds. The dastardly deed described in our text, an all too common occurrence in the ancient world, was done for spite. It was a crime serious enough for Rome to pass laws forbidding it.
The sheer meanness of the deed was heightened by the similarity between wheat and the weed Jesus mentioned in this parable. The weed is darnel, which is hard to distinguish from wheat, till both are quite a way along in their growth.
Jesus made one lesson perfectly clear. Satan’s style is counterfeit imitation. “And no wonder! For Satan himself is disguised as an angel of light” (2 C 11:14).
Satan is the minister of forgery. As God’s ape, the devil does his works trying to mimic Christ’s works (Maclaren). Satan copies every true blessing of God to a large extent, but at the last moment gives each of them a perverted twist.
Satan is Pyrite Man. The mineral pyrite, iron sulfate, has a brass-yellow hue that has earned it the nickname fool’s gold. Miners have found it, sold houses and lands to buy mineral rights, only to find they made an error that led to their ruin.
Physical fool’s gold has maybe destroyed the fortune of hundreds. Spiritual fool’s gold destroys millions. Learn to separate the real from the counterfeit.
Worship in spirit versus idols. God offers us the amazing privilege to enter into vital communion with Him personally, directly. Many worshipers substitute a gaudy physical image in the very place His lovely Holy Spirit wants to occupy.
Real Christ-followers versus hypocrites. A Christlike life is winsome and beautiful. Hypocrites can for years live so much like the real McCoy no one can perceive their treachery until their hardheartedness or sins have done their damage.
Love versus lust. Godly love expresses itself toward others purely, free of selfish sexual overtones. Lust views people as sex objects given to gratify us.
Marriage versus cohabitation. God says the right method is for a man and a woman to leave their parents and live together as husband and wife. Satan says, “Be wise. Experiment first. Your marriage will be better if you first of all try it out a while.” Not true. The overall USA divorce rate is about 50%. For those who live together before marriage, the rate is 80%. This should not surprise us. Cohabiting demonstrates a flippant attitude toward the value of marriage vows.
Fellowship versus carousing. God created us to share in community, to enjoy fellowship with others based on good clean fun. Satan, saying life is dull without promiscuity, throws sin into the mix, thereby destroying relationships.
Spirit fullness versus drunkenness (EP 5:18). We were created to enjoy God in a union of sheer ecstasy. The only counterfeit Satan believes might come anywhere close to what we are meant to enjoy in God is debauchery, drunkenness.
Self-worth versus arrogance. God wants us to sense our infinite worth, to know He loves us, to realize we have value in and of ourselves because God created us, Jesus died for us, and the Holy Spirit pursues us. Satan says our only hope for self-esteem is to be strong, self-centered, domineering, better than thou.
Gentleness versus indulgence. We are to be kind, tolerant of one another. The Devil says we should stretch this to approval of everything others are doing.
Repentance versus penance. God tells us, to be forgiven when we sin, we must repent. We are to express sorrow, deciding to turn from our sin. Satan says, “Compensate. Sin isn’t that bad, it’s a minor matter. It can be made up for. You don’t have to humble yourself, a few good deeds can counterbalance the problem.”
Joy versus happiness. Joy is a deep-seated contentment with life based on trusting God fully, whatever betide. The devil calls this a pipe dream. He says, “At all cost, pursue happiness,” though it depends totally on fickle happenstance, on circumstances always going our way. Happiness fails in the trials of life.
Peace versus presumption. God wants us to enjoy peace with Him through Christ and Godliness. Satan convinces us we are okay with God, however we act.
Truth versus error. God says right is always right, wrong is always wrong. To tell which is which, He lovingly gave us an error-free Bible. Satan lies, “No truth is absolute. The Bible is out of date, inaccurate, proven false by archeology.”
Witnessing versus good actions only. We are commanded to be verbal witnesses for Christ. We are to capture attention by our good deeds, and give credit to God with our words. Satan convinces us living a good life is enough. He is crafty. Living a good moral upstanding life brings honor to us. This honor should rightfully be transferred to Jesus, and can be only by our speaking of Him.
Satan makes sure every light is dogged by a shadow, every positive is echoed by a negative, and every blessing has a counterfeit. Don’t be fooled.