Every year I try to have a garden. I don’t really know why I like having a garden, but I do. Two years ago, we moved into another house and I planted a garden the very first year. My back yard is characterized by that good old Georgia red clay in which I started my garden. First I had to till that red clay. What I found in tilling the red clay was that underneath it was some better soil. When the better soil mixed with the red clay it provided a better environment for which to plant vegetables.
In addition to tilling the soil, I added fertilizer to the soil to better nourish the plants and to hopefully give the plants a better opportunity to bear fruit. Of course, I had to water the garden consistently so that the plants could absorb the nutrients from the ground and produce fruit. Ultimately, I had no idea how my garden would turn out. I had to wait on mother nature to work underneath the ground in order to see the fruit. The garden did okay. I got sweet potatoes, peppers, collard and turnip greens, and cucumbers.
So what are the lessons that I learned from my garden about being a faithful witness for Jesus?
· Whenever we tell people about Jesus we do so by faith. We witness in faith not knowing what God is doing or what He has already done in the heart of that person. Just like the soil in my garden, people’s hearts have to be prepared to receive the gospel. When we witness we may be JUST tilling the soil.
· God’s word and the work of the Holy Spirit are the ingredients that when mixed with a person’s heart makes the person susceptible to the gospel. So whenever we take steps of faith to tell people about Jesus and how they can know Him or when we invite them to church to hear the message of Jesus, we are either planting which may include tilling or we are watering their hearts with the fertilizer of God’s word or the witness of His people living in fellowship with each other.
· Ultimately, just like I never have any idea how my garden will turn out, so we have no idea what is going on in the hearts of the people to whom we witness or bring to church. The Holy Spirit and God’s word work together in people’s hearts & spirits just like the fertilizer works in ways unknowingly to us to produce fruit, i.e. salvation. Therefore we must be persistent in praying for the salvation of people, sharing the gospel, or inviting people to church and other fellowships because in doing so we are either tilling, planting or watering.
· Paul said this in 1 Cor 3:6-9 - I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers.
So then what is the overriding but simple lesson that I got from my garden? Be persistent in praying for the salvation of others, witnessing to others, and inviting them to church by faith.