March 4, 2016

Mark 4:18-19 “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”

I can’t help but feel this describes the majority of Christians today. They have heard the Word and accepted just enough for their salvation, but the voice of the world from outside and the voice of their flesh from the inside together drown out anything further. Whether such people actually are saved is something I have to leave in God’s hands, because I certainly can’t make the call. At the very least, just as Jesus says here, they have no fruitfulness, no results of their faith in their daily lives. I don’t recall the exact statistic, but a survey was done to try to determine the percentage of Christians in America who had ever shared the Gospel deliberately with another person, and the number was shockingly low. The “fruit” we bear is more than just evangelism, but that is certainly an unavoidable part of it. The devil tells us that sharing the Gospel is “too much trouble,” that it is embarrassing. Jesus had an answer to that: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26) Presenting Christ is more than words, certainly. There are people who talk about Jesus but negate everything they say by their attitude and the way they live. However, living an exemplary life without talking about Jesus tells people you don’t need Him to be a good person. I have read a testimony of exactly that, where a person congratulated a coworker on becoming a Christian, and was met with this response: “You mean you were a Christian all along? I thought that if someone could be as nice as you were without being a Christian, then I didn’t need to be one either. That greatly delayed my commitment.” It is a constant battle to keep our lives “weeded,” not to let the things of the flesh and the world crowd out the fruit we are capable of bearing. Many people are convinced they can’t bear fruit, and so they don’t try. Anyone who has received the seed of the Word is capable of bearing fruit, but it requires our own will as well as the help of the Holy Spirit.

This is a somewhat painful topic for me, since I minister in a land that is noted for low return on investment when it comes to evangelism. It would be easy to use the past history of missions in Japan as an excuse for my own low rate of return, but I have to be honest about the weeds in my own life as well. I cannot make anyone commit to Christ, but at the same time I must not get in the way of their doing so. I must not be so sold on Christianity that I forget Christ. That actually is a real problem, and I have seen it happen many times. It’s easy to spot in others, but hard to recognize in myself. I need to live as a demonstration of the Gospel I proclaim, never inviting people into something I am not walking in myself. I have an opportunity today to cement the influence I have had on my nursing school and rehabilitation school students as I attend the graduation ceremonies, and the parties afterwards, of those two schools. I am to be fully sensitive to the Holy Spirit and not miss any of the opportunities He gives me, so that somewhere down the line these people may indeed repent and believe, for an abundant harvest to the glory of God.

Father, I’ve been teaching at these schools for 34 years now, and I have prayed this, or something similar, year by year, and yet I haven’t had direct feedback of anyone’s salvation. Frankly, that’s discouraging. Help me not be bound by the past, but let Your Spirit use me fully today, so that all of Your plans may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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