God Makes it Grow

By Pastor Teck Uy

In the agricultural cycle, the growing stage is the longest and most challenging. It requires a lot of patience as we wait for the plant to bear fruit. Can we do anything to speed up the growth? Not much. In the Parable of the Growing Seed, Jesus pointed out that even if we do nothing, the seed will grow: “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head” (Mark 4:27-28). Left alone, the plant will take its natural course of growing by itself, though we may be able to enhance the growth a little by watering it. In spite of this, the apostle Paul said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Cor. 3:6-7).

Once the seed is sown, we have no control over the speed of its growth. We do not even see what is happening to the seed buried under the ground. We only have to wait patiently for the life pulsating inside the seed to come out and grow. In one of his sermons, Jesus gave us an idea of what is actually happening to the seed buried underground when he said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24). For the seed to grow, it has to die. This dying involves the cracking, or breaking, of the once beautiful shell of the seed. Unless the shell gives way, the life in that seed will not break out, and it will remain a beautiful, yet useless, seed. It’s no wonder the apostle Paul had to emphasize that for someone to be truly born again, he has to die to himself. He said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). We need to overcome our old sinful nature—this happens when we let Jesus takes control of our lives.

There are those who tend to walk by sight instead of walking by faith. The moment that they see no visible progress in the seed they’ve planted, they dig it up. Seeing the beautiful seed they have planted earlier now wrinkled and the shell now breaking, they replace it with a new seed, thinking that it had rotted. On the contrary, the wrinkling and breaking of the shell is part of the dying process. If they keep on digging and replacing the seed, they will never have a harvest since the seed will never grow. Likewise, for a person to grow in the faith, there are times when we have to leave them alone to deal with the discipline that the Lord imposes on them. Our intervention will spoil the plan of God to teach them a valuable lesson and they will never grow. Therefore, we need to have the patience of a farmer and heed the admonition of the apostle James, “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains” (James 5:7). 

Watering the seed will certainly help its growth, but too much water (or lack of it) will eventually kill the plant. There should only be enough water to meet the need. Just like plants, believers need to be watered to grow. We are watered by the Word of God. But just as plants will stop growing and eventually die when there is too much, or too little water, believers will also fail to grow and eventually self-destruct if they have too much, or too little knowledge of the Word. In the Book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon said, “Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool—why die before your time? Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes” (Eccl. 7:16-18). This truth was magnified by the apostle Paul when he said, “Knowledge puffs up” (1 Cor. 8:1). One who is puffed up is full of pride and the Book of Proverbs said, “Pride goes before destruction” (Prov. 16:18). On the other hand, lack of knowledge of the Word of God is also dangerous. Through the prophet Hosea, God said, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

The power of the Word to help believers grow should never be discounted. We must remember that “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:12-13). Therefore, let us allow God to grow us in our faith through his Word. Praise the Lord!