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Seeds – Before and After

Before and after pictures have become quite popular. They are used to sell diet routines, exercise programs, and real estate investment systems. You know how the presentation works. We show you a picture of what things looked like before the application of the product or service. We then show you a picture of the results. The dramatic change that has taken place is remarkable and motivating.
We are drawn to these scenarios because they reflect one of the most important principles of life. Seeds that are planted produce a harvest. Consider 1 Corinthians 15:35-58. Let me work backward. In verse 58, Paul gives the “after” picture, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” The result we are all looking for is to be rock solid in our faith, our convictions and our relationships. We want to pursue our goals and dreams with the confidence that our efforts are both worthwhile and effective. The big question is, “How do we get there?”
You will notice verse 58 starts with the word “therefore.” One of the basic rules for bible study is “when you see a therefore ask yourself what is it there for.” This is where the before picture comes into play. In verses 35-57 Paul reminds us that everything strong, confident, and eternally significant begins as a seed. He then describes how seeds work:
• Sowing seed is hard work (v. 36). The seed has to “die” first so that it is released from its current state to become what it has the potential to be.
• The seed is unremarkable (v. 37). It is small and unattractive. It looks very different from the plant it will turn into.
• The seed is predictable (v. 38-41). Each seed will produce its own kind of fruit. Wheat never produces fruit trees. Weed seeds never produce roses.
• The plant is much greater in appearance and productivity (v. 42-49). One seed can result in a tree that produces fruit for years.
• The harvest causes people to celebrate (v. 50-57).
• The whole process takes time (v. 58)
Paul’s motivation for continuing to patiently plant seeds by serving others, teaching diligently, telling others about the gospel of Jesus, and training others how to live the Christian life was the belief that a harvest is coming. When a farmer is plowing his field and planting seeds, he works hard. At the end of the day, it doesn’t look like much has happened. You can tell he rearranged the dirt and put great effort into something he believes in. There is nothing, however, that would cause anyone to rejoice or compliment him. He did what needed to be done today so that a harvest could be realized later. There is satisfaction in the work only because he knows what is coming.
I found encouragement in this today. Most of my life is sowing seeds and I suspect your life is the same. Serving others doesn’t seem glorious unless you know there is a harvest to come from the seeds you planted. Standing on your convictions when most people tell you it is foolish, outdated, or unenlightened is not rewarding unless you know there is a harvest. Taking care of responsibilities before you give yourself privileges feels restrictive unless you know there is a harvest.
Take heart my friends. Every good seed you plant today will produce an eternal harvest.
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