As many of you know, I have a black thumb -- the opposite of a green thumb. I have killed every plant I have ever attempted to grow. Right now, in a sort of last-ditch effort to break the pattern, I have a flower box in which I've planted marigolds. So far, I have nine plants up -- a record! But every one of them looks to be on death's doorstep, so don't be surprised if I soon tell you, "I've killed another nine flowers." Having a black thumb can sometimes make it difficult to fully appreciate all the farming analogies used in the Bible, but that's still one of the dominant images we see in Scripture.
We're all familiar with the Parable of the Sower: a sower sows seeds, some falling along the path, some on rocky soil, some among the thorns, and some on good ground. Only the seed that fell on good soil lasted and produced a large crop. Jesus explains the seed is the word of God, and the different places the seeds land are different responses to the message about the Kingdom (see Matthew 13:1-9,18-23). It turns out we have to sow seeds if we want to produce fruit. If we want to see people come to Christ, we have to share the gospel with them.
We can't think it's our own efforts that get the job done, however. Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7: "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe -- as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow." We're each called to different tasks in the kingdom; some of us plant, others water. But we can plant and water all our lives and see no growth because only God can do that. If we do things under our own power, we'll kill what we planted (like me and my plants). But if we're obedient to God's will, He will work in miraculous ways to bless our efforts and bring lost souls home.
Go forth. Plant. Water. But remember that only God can make things grow.