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Monday, June 14, 2010

Good And Bad Seeds

I have been so busy over the past week.  I realized, sometime around Thursday, that I was taking a week off from blogging, whether I liked it or not.  Well, I'm back now, and today I'm wanting to say a little bit about seeds, and future generations.


I've been re-reading the Bible for the past few months, and one of the symbols I'm noticing again is the frequent reference to seeds as spiritual symbols throughout the Bible.  I have heard it preached that they often represent good and bad deeds, and that isn't too far off the track, but I'm seeing that they are more than that.  Really, they are the spiritual consequences of choices, not merely symbols of the choices themselves.  Seeds symbolically represent the future results of small choices, emphasizing the enormity, and seriousness, of the little decisions we make every day.  Seeds sown in our lives today may destroy us later, or they may put on a crop of good fruit that brings blessing to both ourselves and those around us.


Volunteer Plants


Now, let me call your attention to the photo I've included in this post.  It's a couple of Four O' Clock seedlings in my front flower bed.


I planted Four O' Clocks last year in a pot on my front porch, and when they got large, they prolifically scattered seeds everywhere.  This year, I have volunteer plants all over the place that came from the seeds of the first three.  I never planted or watered them, but they are sprouting in several flower beds and even my yard.  If I allow them to grow, they will continue to be everywhere in increasingly large numbers.  That's the thing about seeds.  They have a way of multiplying themselves exponentially.  If you don't want a whole lot of them, you have to get the first plants and all of their seeds, or you will have a plague on your hands.


Four O' Clocks aren't so bad, but this volunteer seed situation makes me remember my grandparent's farm where I used to play as a child.  They had a significant problem with sand burrs.


You might be familiar with cockle burrs, which put on grape-sized brown seeds that have hooked spines all over them.  Cockle burrs were the inspiration for velcro.  Sand burrs are similar, but much nastier.  They're the size of black-eyed peas (or a little smaller) and have needle-sharp spines.  They make cockle burr plants seem downright friendly.  Sand burrs draw blood and have the ugly habit of tangling themselves in shoelaces and socks.  Even after you remove the seeds, you still find the spines in your laundry and shoelaces for months afterwards.


My granddad tried everything he could think of to get rid of the sand burrs from his fields.  He tried mowing, controlled burning, and spraying herbicide or gasoline, but there were always more plants the next year.  It seems that once a sand burr plant grows in an area, the species never quite leaves the place.


However, there never were any sand burrs growing close to my grandparents' house.  Why?  Well, if they found a sand burr seed, they threw it away.  If they saw a plant coming up, they pulled it up with the roots.  Sand burrs and other nasty weeds can escape and grow where no one is watching, but if they grew where they could be noticed, people tend to destroy them before the next generation can come along.


The Good and Bad Seed


In the Mosaic Law, the Israelites had several laws concerning seeds and planting,  including a law not to plant two kinds of seed together (Leviticus 19: 19; Deuteronomy 22: 9).  These laws were to be taken literally, but they had symbolic meaning; in essence, God was cautioning His people not to mix good and bad decisions (sinful and obedient behavior) in their lives, because if the bad "seed" put on a "bumper crop" of consequences, the results could be fatal to the whole field (life), strangling out the good (see also Jesus' Parable of the Sower Matthew 13: 1-23).


This idea of good and bad seed is not just explained in symbolism, so that no one could be confused about it. Moses also specifically instructed the people about one particular type of bad "seed," that is, the seed of apostasy, and it's consequences for the individual as well as the nation.  Moses told Israel in Deuteronomy 29: 18-19,

"Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.  When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, 'I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.'  This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry."

In other words, don't let one bad seed sprout, or it will ultimately bring disaster to everyone, because that one bad seed will put on more seeds, until it has seeded itself through the whole nation.  Moses goes on to explain to the Israelites in the Deuteronomy 29 passage that God would punish each individual who turned away from Him, but that in doing so, the whole land would be laid waste (see Deuteronomy 29: 16-25 and Matthew 13: 36-43).  So singling out such evil "weeds" at the onset would protect the whole nation in later generations.


Moses' instructions have some bearing on us today.  If we aren't careful, and we find ourselves making excuses for our own life choices, our decisions could lead our children, and their peers, into increasingly rebellious behavior.  Sins aren't born in a vacuum, and the destruction they leave behind certainly doesn't fade away like a cloud of mist.  One bad but exceptionally influential "weed" in the neighborhood could eventually lead millions into destructive lifestyles that harm others (such as drug and alcohol abuse), which also draws God's wrath.  A legacy of destruction and sorrow can start by tolerating just one seed, and once begun, it's very difficult to remove completely.


Wanna Leave a Legacy?

There is a decidedly positive side to all of this.  Many people talk about wanting to leave a legacy for future generations, and it is certainly possible.  Just as bad people who put out bad "seeds" leave a legacy of trouble and sorrow, good people who obey God in every area of their lives are putting on good "seeds" for a future generation.


If you want to leave a positive legacy, it starts with how you live your life today.  If you make decisions based on what God would have you do, even if it comes with a personal cost, people around you will see and some will copy you.  If you are a parent, you must model godly behavior for your children, and you shouldn't shy away from talking to them about God.  If you are a business person, model godly business practices, not merely ethical ones, so that your employees will see and take note of what you did and how God blessed you in it.  If you are a friend or neighbor, treat those around you with kindness and respect and they will notice and at least contemplate doing the same.  If one person obeys, it could turn into a whole harvest of obedient people.


The key to leaving this kind of spiritual legacy is not just getting noticed for looking like the "seed" you want to produce, but by actually becoming the kind of spiritual "seed" you desire to produce, so that the "seeds" you sow into the next generation will sprout up as the right kind of "plant."  You can't just obey God when you think people are looking, or at the root you will be the wrong kind of "plant," and the seeds you sow may also include poison weeds.  As Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15: 5 NIV).


This week, think about what kind of legacy you are leaving for generations to come.  Seek Christ's help in rooting out the "weed" seeds from your life before they bear fruit, and let Him teach you how to bear the good, wholesome seeds that will bring a blessing and not a curse.

2 comments:

Kamal said...

Rachel,

You have conveyed the the message very well. Examples of the plants that you have used has certainly made it easier to understand the important truths that you have quoted from the Bible.

I would like to make a point here. In Hosea 4:17 we read "Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone."

God is speaking to Judah to leave Ephraim alone because of his idol worship. It is very important for us to identify the evil influences in our lives as they could be a potential threat to one's life and when we recognize evil influences, we better leave them alone. Evil influences are like bad seeds. If we don't run away from them like Joseph, they will ruin our life.

The picture you have used is just the right one.

- Kamal

Rachel M. said...

Thanks, Kamal. I'm always grateful for your support! You make a good point--sometimes you've got to move your "field" (life) away from the bad weeds to keep them from sowing seeds into your life.

There are many more things that could be said on this topic. I was just trying to cover some basics in this post. I may return to it later.

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