Summary: In the midst of this devastation a harvest of another kind is ripening and producing an incredible return.
Matthew 13:1-23 – Part 7 - A RETURN ON THE INVESTMENT
Vehicles being thrown around like toys in the rushing waters and heartbreaking stories of lives lost have filled the news reports. The damage to bumper harvests was also devastating, probably in the billions of dollars, as the states of Queensland, NSW and Victoria in Australia have been inundated with floods. As I speak a new cyclone is threatening to devastate Queensland even further.
In the midst of this devastation a harvest of another kind is ripening and producing an incredible return. Christian Churches right around Australia open the doors of their buildings as evacuation centres, feed the hungry, send volunteer teams to help clean houses, and give millions of dollars in aid. Scores of Christians giving not only practical help in a coordinated way, but emotional and spiritual help.
Jesus speaks of that kind of harvest in Matthew 13:23 (NLT). He says “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
HARVEST is important. What comes to mind when you think of being GOOD SOIL? Some kind of SICKLY SAINT who whines about the evil in world and tries to impress God with good works to gain points, right? That’s not it! Surely? Please Lord, not that.
It is interesting to me that even when Jesus speaks about the good soil (Matthew 13:23), that some produce a harvest of only 30% AND 60%. Is He saying that even though I have responded the message of His Kingdom authority in my life that I can still live BELOW MY POTENTIAL and fail to produce a harvest of 100% RETURN? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not beating myself up over this when I fail, but apparently God has designed my life to be 100% PRODUCTIVE, not dormant, limited or underlived. It’s as if God is trying to say “Don’t give Me excuses! Give me a RETURN! Go! Make a difference in the world for Me with what I have already INVESTED in your life. You can do it!”
But what is this FRUIT OF THE CROP that every genuine Christian produces? The parable doesn’t say! I guess it speaks of all kinds of things.
When Colossians 1:10 (NLT) speaks about producing fruit. It says, “…your lives will produce EVERY KIND of good fruit. ….”
Whenever someone responds to the message of Christ then that is a potential harvest. The harvest does refer to my influence in helping people come to Christ. The harvest is plentiful and the labourers are few (Matthew 9:38), but it is much MORE than that!
The context of this Colossians 1 indicates that fruit is a CHANGED LIFE after receiving the message of Christ (Colossians 1:6). This in turn produces an active LOVE for others (Colossians 1:8), a KNOWLEDGE of God’s will, spiritual WISDOM and UNDERSTANDING (Colossians 1:9), GROWING and LEARNING to know God more (Colossians 1:10), ENDURANCE, PATIENCE AND JOY (Colossians 1:11), and finally SHARING the message of the gospel with others (Colossians 1:12). A harvest of thoughts, words and actions that HONOUR and PLEASE the Lord.
Galatians also speaks of personal fruit that is evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in a person’s life. “… the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT). The very CHARACTER AND INFLUENCE OF GOD produced in my life. Imagine the kind of return in the world there would be if leaders and nations took hold of the message of Christ!
In the gospel of John Jesus says producing this kind of return is dependent upon my relationship with Him. “…you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. …apart from Me you can do nothing. …When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father.” (John 15:1-8 NLT)
So the invitation Jesus gives us is to bear fruit. I am to make a difference in the world because Jesus has made a difference in me. I am to PRODUCE something worthwhile in my life because of what God has INVESTED in me.
God bless you as the fruit that is developed on the inside of a changed life becomes obvious to others. Through the fruit of your thoughts, words and actions others will also have an opportunity to respond to Christ.