“A farmer went out to sow his seed. … Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. … But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
If corn is planted, corn is harvested. If God’s Word is planted, then God’s Word will be harvested.
What does a harvest of God’s Word look like?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
This is our reward. This is what all the hard work is for.
I had to remove the blind spots in my heart so that I could “hear the Word.” Then I had to “retain it,” read and meditate on His Word, so that roots could grow and keep me from falling into temptation. And then I had to “persevere” in His Word, push away worry and deceit, and make sure I kept my trust in Him.
But the harvest is worth it!
I John 4:17-18
This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Fear is a natural human reaction. Depression, anxiety, addictions, and compulsions magnify fear in my mind to the point where it feels overwhelming.
And the feeling is correct, in that I can’t overcome the fear. I have a lifetime of trying to overcome the fear and failing.
But I don’t have to. Filling my thoughts with God’s Word fills my mind with His love, and He overcomes the fear.
Knowing God’s love is in me – because Jesus and the Holy Spirit live in me – gives me hope that He can and will overcome the fear.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
My natural joy is really just happiness. And happiness is fickle and weak.
Happiness folds like a cheap chair under the weight of depression and anxiety. And mania blows happiness up like a balloon. It looks so beautiful and feels so good, until the mania blows too much and the balloon explodes, leaving useless scraps of latex where happiness used to be.
But joy is strong. Jesus’ joy was so strong, it carried Him through a horrible death and three days in hell.
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
And that joy is in me, because Jesus is in me.
His joy in me keeps me from giving up when the depression won’t let go. His joy gives my mind something solid to hold onto when anxiety tells me to freak out over what’s happening around me.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Faith is not denial. Jesus never said that following Him would lead us to a place with no trouble. He said that He would be right there with us in the middle of the trouble, and that He would overcome that trouble.
I don’t have to deny my diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder to overcome it. What I do is focus my attention on Jesus and fill my mind with His Word and His Truth. As I am faithful to do His Will, I grow a crop of peace in my heart that is strong enough to challenge my illness.
being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience
The Greek word translated as forbearance in Galatians 5:22 is the same word translated here as patience.
God doesn’t do our work for us. But neither does He expect us to do it alone. With every task He gives us, He also gives us everything we need to accomplish that task.
I need patience to survive a depressive episode that lasts for months. I need patience to make it through the afternoon at work when my anxiety is driving me crazy.
God knows this, and He provided everything I need to survive these things. He provided His Word as a seed in our lives and people to teach us how to plant it in our hearts. And then He rewarded our obedience with a harvest of patience to face the fallen world we live in.
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
This is how God originally created me to be. My brain was designed to be peaceable and considerate and gentle. My brain was not designed for disobedience and slander.
Mental illness altered God’s original design. Anger and frustration boil just beneath the surface. And when I’m using all my energy to just survive, selfishness takes over and others will just have to take care of themselves.
But God’s Word can heal my brain.
This takes time and work on my part, using all the tools He provides including doctors, therapists, medication, and behavior modification. But God has provided everything I need to bring my mind and my brain back to His original design.
The harvest of kindness is not just for the benefit of the people around me. When I’m able to be kind and gentle toward others, it’s evidence that God is healing me and changing my life for the better.
To be continued…
The fruit of His Spirit are so amazing, I can’t cover them all in one post. I’ll explore the rest next week.
The parable of the sower is God’s road map to blessing. What harvest have you reaped in your life as a result of sowing God’s Word in your heart?
Photo credit: Pexels