Musings from the Garden

The parable of the sower is a familiar one for many: 4 kinds of soil with 4 results. Only 1 seed = gospel (good news of Jesus) yet there are two categories of the results: the saved and the unsaved.

Matthew 13
18 “Listen then to the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one sown with seed beside the road.

20 The one sown with seed on the rocky places, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution occurs because of the word, immediately he falls away.

22 And the one sown with seed among the thorns, this is the one who hears the word, and the anxiety of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

23 But the one sown with seed on the good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces, some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times as much.”

I used to wonder a bit about what is the difference between soil 2 & soil 3. One thing is similar: both are affected by the concerns of the world = affliction, persecution (v.21) and anxiety of the world (v.22). The difference is soil 2 falls away. The person received the good news with joy but he turned away from his belief when hardships come. Soil 3 becomes unfruitful. This person is like the plant that grows with the thorns. The cares of the world prevent him from bearing fruit:1) fruit of the Spirit; bearing fruit like 2) sharing the gospel to make disciples of people.

To be like soil no. 3 is to be like a believer of Jesus yet not bearing the semblance of Jesus. To be unfruitful is like having no joy, no patience, no love, no peace, no faithfulness, no gentleness, no goodness or kindness and no self-control. To be an unfruitful Christian is because his focus is on the “anxiety of the world” and the “deceitfulness of wealth” not on the ‘Power of the Word.”

To be fruitful, I need to ‘hear’ (really listen, read and study) the Word, ‘understand’ (really live and apply it to my daily living). To be fruitful is to bless my neighbor as I obey God’s command to love him with all my being. How do I bless my neighbor? I love them like Jesus loves me. I forgive as I am forgiven. I give as Jesus gives. I multiply the gifts and make more givers out of my giving = that is making disciples of all nations. That is the great commission of being a fruitful follower of Jesus. So help me God.

Today is another day to bear fruit and be fruitful, dear friend.

The Power of Influence

Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character. ~ (1 Corinthians 15:33)

I remember in Chinese class during high school, there’s story of a mother who moved house 3x because she didn’t want her son to be influenced by bad neighbours.

The background on the verse Paul wrote the Corinthians was that there were people who didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. Easter is coming. Some call it Resurrection Sunday. In the passage, Paul argues that the resurrection of Jesus is an important truth of our faith. Paul taught the Corinthians not to be misled by bad company. Indeed we need to beware who influence our thoughts and who influence us in our daily life.

Today, we are constantly bombarded by billboards, TV ads, social media, and information technology, etc. Popular movie and sports personalities, religious and political leaders all have their say and are greatly impacting the lives of many. Parents, we need to teach our children to stick close to God – read the Bible and pray for wisdom to differentiate the right from wrong. We must be hands-on in our guidance. Do we influence them or do their friends influence them more? Are their friends God-fearing? Are we aware what they are reading? Who their friends are? What they do when they are together? What kind of music, movies and video games do they like? All these in different minute ways affect their thoughts, speech and actions. In the end, they shape the character of the person.

When I was young, I followed my more influential and more dominant friends around – they were the leaders in school and at church. I am thankful that my mom was a great influence in my life. Being a teacher, she taught me the disciplines of responsibility and diligence. I didn’t realise that in things that I do at church, people also followed what I did. I discovered that I too can influence people instead of just being influenced. As I grow older and after I got married, hubby influenced me a lot. I learned and am still learning to pick up the good and discard the bad.

Bottom line: Good company promotes good character. Bad company corrupts good character. Birds of the same feather do flock together but flock with the good birds and you’d be transformed to be a better bird. 😉