July 16, 2016

Psalm 97:11-12 Light is shed upon the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.

I have the feeling I’ve written on this before, because the Japanese for verse 11 is so striking. Rather than just saying “shed,” like the NIV, the Japanese says “sown like seed.” Seeds are not static; they are alive and grow. Light and joy grow for those who are right with God. As Jesus made very clear in His parable, (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23) the soil has a huge influence on the success of seeds. Just as with the Word of God, which Jesus was talking about, how we receive God’s light and joy greatly affects their influence on us. If we are constantly comparing the light/revelation we have received with that of others, that light isn’t going to penetrate very far into our hearts and lives. No one person, or even part of the Body of Christ, has the whole revelation of God, and feeling that our revelation is “better” than that of someone else is a sure way to walk in darkness rather than light. (1 John 2:9-11) The same sort of thing can be said about God’s joy. If we let jealousy or feelings of entitlement spring up, they will quickly choke out the joy of the Lord, and we and all around us will be much the poorer for it. When we realize how God’s grace operates toward us, the appropriate response is gratitude and praise, as it says in verse 12. That’s the way to keep the soil of our hearts plowed and moist, ready to receive God’s seeds.

I don’t recall connecting this passage to Jesus’ parable before. That is traditionally called “The Parable of the Sower,” but it would seem to be more accurately called, “The Parable of the Soils.” After all, there is no difference in the quality of the seed sown. As a pastor, I am in many ways a gardener. I don’t create the seed by any means, but I can plow and plant and water, and God will give the increase. Since my primary gifting is Teacher, I am very focused on planting the Word of God, but if I ignore the crust that has formed on the surface of the soil, that Word isn’t going to penetrate. Such crusts can form from pressure, such as being stepped on or driven over. The people to whom I minister suffer from all sorts of pressures in their lives. If I ignore those, I won’t be very effective in planting the seed. Such crusts can also form from minerals within the soil coming to the surface and hardening. I’ve got to let the Holy Spirit peel back and remove such layers. Sometimes it takes a major impact to break through such a layer. I must never try to apply such treatment myself, but I must be watchful to go in and minister God’s grace and love when it happens. I may be a gardener, but God is the Source of Life, and I must never forget that. My role is one of great privilege and high honor, but pride will totally destroy my effectiveness.

Father, thank You for this clear Word, expressed in ways I hadn’t thought of before. Thank You that You indeed keep growing Your light and joy in me. Help me never hold back, but always be eagerly receptive of all that You pour out, allowing it to flow through me to others, unhindered and uncontaminated, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

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