“…a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…”
Good morning one and all! I don’t know where you are or what you’ve got going on your lives this week, but here in North Carolina…our teachers just started preparing for the new school year. I am not a teacher, but I have spent some time this summer/the last two weeks doing some teaching in various Bible school type situations. I have also been a part of some amazing and…interesting conversations this summer. Anyway, during my study time this morning, I came across something I felt needed to be shared.
My Sunday school class began a study of Ecclesiastes a while back and I have been studying along. Sorta. So we’re now done with Ecclesiastes and I’m still on chapter 3 but I’m studying it! Anyway, yesterday and today I have been on chapter 3. This morning I was reading from my Warren Wiersbe Old Testament commentary. When he got to Ecclesiastes 3:2, he had this to say: “Men may plow and sow, but only God can give the increase”.
Here is something I’ve heard a lot over the summer: its not enough. You’re not doing enough. I’m not doing enough. Apparently, according to the church and 95% of the people I know, no one is doing enough. You know how you can tell? People still sin. People still make mistakes. People out there still don’t believe that Jesus is a real person. People out there still don’t get how awesome He is and why He should be constantly worshipped.
All along, I’ve known there is a flaw to this logic. Deep down, I believe they know it too. I just haven’t been quite sure about how to say it (I mean, other than slapping them in the face and screaming “Are you kidding me?!?“). Then I read this quote from Wiersbe.
“Men may plow and sow, but only God can give the increase.”
The first half of this sentence is the doing. It is the work part of the sentence. We do not work for God to gain our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9), we work for God because we so overflow with His amazing grace we don’t want to stop working! And we can work! One of the beautiful things about this relationship with the infinite God is that He allows finite, messed up humans to help Him plow and sow. For anyone who has ever prayed a prayer of salvation or witnessed someone accept the friendship of Jesus, God even lets us be a part of the reaping! That is why Wiersbe’s wording is so important.
Yes God teaches us to sow and then lets us do it. Yes God teaches us to plow and then lets us do it. Yes God even allows us to reap sometimes. But no one, no one out side of the Holy Trinity of the God head no one causes the increase…except God. No matter how hard we sow, no matter how much we plow, we are not behind the increase and we will never be behind the increase.
So teachers. And I was inspired to write this because of school teachers, but this is for anyone who ever teaches anybody anything: teachers, teacher’s aids, principals, pastors, youth pastors, moms, dads, baby sitters. Teachers, sow seeds this year. Sow seeds of knowledge (that is, after all, what you’re underpaid for), but in this violent and hateful world also sow seeds of kindness, and fairness, and love, and hope, and peace. Sow seeds. Then plow. Work the ground and the seeds you have sown. Prepare the soil for those seeds to take root and grow. Then take a step back and remember one thing…God alone is in charge of the increase.
And when someone tries to tell you that what you are doing “is not enough” because of test scores or bullying or bad decisions, look back at your field. If you have sown and plowed as the Lord commands in His word, then you did all you could. And if the person telling you “it’s not enough” still believes that, then they’re really telling God “it’s not enough” and they’ll need to take that up with Him (I’d like to hear that conversation).