Sowing Seeds of Kingdom Truth
“In the morning sow your seed and until the evening do not let your hand rest.”—ECCLESIASTES 11:6.
1. In what sense are Christians sowing seed today?
AGRICULTURE played a vital role in ancient Hebrew society. That is why Jesus, whose whole life as a human was spent in the Promised Land, incorporated agricultural themes into his illustrations. For example, he likened the preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom to the sowing of seed. (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23; Luke 8:5-15) To this day, whether we live in an agricultural society or not, sowing spiritual seed in this way is the most important work that Christians do.
2. How important is our preaching work, and what are some of the things being done today to carry it out?
2 It is a great privilege to share in the sowing of Bible truth in this time of the end. Romans 10:14, 15 well expresses the importance of this work: “How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach? How, in turn, will they preach unless they have been sent forth? Just as it is written: ‘How comely are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!’” Never has it been more important to press ahead with a positive attitude in fulfilling this God-given commission. For that reason Jehovah’s Witnesses are fully immersed in the production and distribution of Bibles and Bible-study aids in 340 languages. The preparation of this material requires over 18,000 volunteers at their headquarters and at branch offices in various lands. And almost six million Witnesses share in distributing this Bible literature around the world.
3. What is being accomplished through the sowing of Kingdom truth?
3 What is the fruitage of this hard work? As in the early days of Christianity, many today are embracing the truth. (Acts 2:41, 46, 47) More important, however, than the large number of newly baptized Kingdom publishers is the fact that this great witness contributes to the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and to his vindication as the only true God. (Matthew 6:9) Further, a knowledge of God’s Word is improving the lives of many and can lead to their salvation.—Acts 13:47.
4. To what extent were the apostles concerned about the people to whom they preached?
4 The apostles were fully aware of the life-giving importance of the good news, and they felt deeply for those to whom they preached. This is clear from the words of the apostle Paul, when he wrote: “Having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8) In manifesting such genuine concern for people, Paul and the other apostles were imitating Jesus and the heavenly angels, who are very much involved in this lifesaving work. Let us review the important roles that these heavenly servants of God play in the sowing of Kingdom truth, and let us see how their example encourages us to fulfill our role.
Jesus—The Sower of Kingdom Truth
5. In what work did Jesus primarily occupy himself when on earth?
5 Jesus, a perfect man, had the power to provide many good things in a material way for the people of his time. For example, he could have cleared up many of the medical misconceptions of his day, or he could have advanced human understanding in other sciences. Yet, he made it clear very early in his ministry that his commission was that of preaching the good news. (Luke 4:17-21) And toward the end of his ministry, he explained: “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37) So he occupied himself with the sowing of seeds of Kingdom truth. Teaching his contemporaries about God and His purposes was more important than any other education Jesus could have given them.—Romans 11:33-36.
6, 7. (a) What remarkable commitment did Jesus make before his ascension to heaven, and how is he fulfilling it? (b) How does Jesus’ attitude toward the preaching work affect you personally?
6 Jesus alluded to himself as the Sower of Kingdom truth. (John 4:35-38) He spread seeds of good news at every opportunity. Even as he was dying on the stake, he proclaimed good news about a future earthly paradise. (Luke 23:43) Moreover, his deep concern that the good news be preached did not end with his death on the torture stake. Before his ascension to heaven, he commanded the apostles to continue sowing seeds of Kingdom truth and to make disciples. Then Jesus made a remarkable promise. He said: “Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 28:19, 20.
7 With these words Jesus made a commitment to support, direct, and safeguard the work of preaching the good news “all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” Right down to our own day, Jesus continues to have a personal interest in the evangelizing work. He is our Leader, in charge of the sowing of Kingdom truth. (Matthew 23:10) As Head of the Christian congregation, he is responsible before Jehovah for this worldwide work.—Ephesians 1:22, 23; Colossians 1:18.
The Angels Declare Glad Tidings
8, 9. (a) How have the angels displayed a genuine interest in human affairs? (b) In what sense might it be said that we are a theatrical spectacle to the angels?
8 When Jehovah created the earth, the angels “joyfully cried out together, and . . . began shouting in applause.” (Job 38:4-7) Ever since then, these heavenly creatures have displayed a keen interest in human affairs. Jehovah has used them to convey divine pronouncements to humans. (Psalm 103:20) This is especially true in connection with the spreading of the good news in our day. In the revelation given him, the apostle John saw an “angel flying in midheaven” who has “everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived.’”—Revelation 14:6, 7.
9 The Bible refers to angels as “spirits for public service, sent forth to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14) As the angels eagerly carry out their assigned duties, they have the opportunity to observe us and our work. As if on a very conspicuous theater stage, we carry out our work in front of a heavenly audience. (1 Corinthians 4:9) How sobering and thrilling to know that we are not working alone as sowers of Kingdom truth!
We Eagerly Fulfill Our Role
10. How can the practical advice at Ecclesiastes 11:6 be applied to our evangelizing work?
10 Why are Jesus and the angels so interested in our work? Jesus gave one reason when he said: “I tell you, joy arises among the angels of God over one sinner that repents.” (Luke 15:10) We too share that genuine interest in people. Hence, we do our best to spread seeds of Kingdom truth everywhere. The words of Ecclesiastes 11:6 can be applied to our work. There the Bible admonishes us: “In the morning sow your seed and until the evening do not let your hand rest; for you are not knowing where this will have success, either here or there, or whether both of them will alike be good.” Granted, for every person who accepts our message there may be hundreds or even thousands who reject it. But like the angels, we rejoice when even “one sinner” accepts the message of salvation.
11. How effective can the use of Bible-based publications be?
11 Much is involved in the preaching of the good news. One important aid in this work is the Bible-based printed material used by Jehovah’s Witnesses. In some respects, these publications are also like seeds that are spread everywhere. We do not know where they will have success. Sometimes a publication may change hands before someone reads it. Jesus and the angels may even guide events in some instances to make this happen for the benefit of righthearted ones. Consider some experiences that illustrate how Jehovah can work out unexpected and wonderful results using literature that has been left with people.
The Work of the True God
12. How was an old magazine instrumental in helping one family to come to know Jehovah?
12 In 1953, Robert, Lila, and their children moved from a big city into a dilapidated old farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Shortly after moving in, Robert decided to install a bathroom underneath an enclosed flight of stairs. After removing several boards, he discovered that behind the wall, mice had stowed away shredded papers, empty walnut shells, and other debris. There, in the midst of it all, lay a copy of The Golden Age magazine. Robert was particularly interested in an article on the subject of raising children. He was so impressed by the clear, Bible-based direction given in the magazine that he told Lila that they were going to join “the religion of The Golden Age.” Within just a few weeks, Jehovah’s Witnesses came to their door, but Robert told them that the family was interested only in “the religion of The Golden Age.” The Witnesses explained that The Golden Age now had a new title, Awake! Robert and Lila began to study the Bible regularly with the Witnesses, and eventually they got baptized. They, in turn, sowed seeds of truth in their children and reaped bountifully. Today, more than 20 members of this family, including all of Robert and Lila’s seven children, are baptized servants of Jehovah God.
13. What moved a couple in Puerto Rico to develop an interest in the Bible?
13 Some 40 years ago, William and Ada, a married couple from Puerto Rico, had no interest in studying the Bible. Whenever Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on their door, the couple pretended not to be at home. One day William visited a junkyard to purchase an item needed for a repair at home. As he was leaving, he noticed a bright lime-green book lying in a large trash container. It was Religion, a book published by Jehovah’s Witnesses back in 1940. William took the book home and was thrilled to read about the difference between false and true religion. The next time Jehovah’s Witnesses called, William and Ada gladly listened to their message and began to study the Bible with them. Some months later they were baptized at the Divine Will International Assembly in 1958. Since then, they have helped more than 50 individuals to become part of our Christian brotherhood.
14. As shown by an experience, what potential does our Bible-based literature have?
14 Karl was only 11 years old and somewhat mischievous. It seemed to him that he was always getting into trouble. His father, a German Methodist preacher, had taught him that bad people burn in hell after death. So Karl was very afraid of hell. One day in 1917, Karl noticed a printed piece of paper on the street and picked it up. As he read it, his eyes quickly focused on the question: “What is hell?” The paper was an invitation to a public lecture on the subject of hell, sponsored by the Bible Students, known today as Jehovah’s Witnesses. About a year later, after several sessions of Bible study, Karl was baptized, thereby becoming one of the Bible Students. In 1925 he was invited to work at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses—where he still serves. A Christian career spanning over eight decades began with a piece of paper on the street.
15. What can Jehovah do, as he sees fit?
15 True, it is beyond human ability to determine if and to what extent the angels were directly involved in these experiences. Still, we should never doubt that Jesus and the angels play an active role in the preaching work and that Jehovah can guide matters as he sees fit. These and many similar experiences illustrate the potential for good that our literature may have after it leaves our hands.
We Have Been Entrusted With a Treasure
16. What can we learn from the words of 2 Corinthians 4:7?
16 The apostle Paul spoke of a “treasure in earthen vessels.” That treasure is the God-given commission to preach, and the earthen vessels are the humans to whom Jehovah has entrusted this treasure. Since those humans are imperfect and limited, Paul goes on to say that the result of their being given such a commission is that “the power beyond what is normal may be God’s and not that out of ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) Yes, we can count on Jehovah to furnish the power needed to enable us to accomplish the work at hand.
17. What will we encounter as we sow seeds of Kingdom truth, and why should we nevertheless maintain a positive attitude?
17 Often we have to make sacrifices. It may be uncomfortable or inconvenient to work in some territories. There are areas where most people seem extremely apathetic, even hostile. Much effort may be expended in such localities with no apparent success. But no effort is too great when so much is at stake. Remember, the seeds you sow can give people happiness now as well as everlasting life in the future. The words of Psalm 126:6 have proved true many times: “The one that without fail goes forth, even weeping, carrying along a bagful of seed, will without fail come in with a joyful cry, carrying along his sheaves.”
18. How can we pay constant attention to our ministry, and why should we?
18 Let us seize every appropriate opportunity to sow seeds of Kingdom truth generously. May we never forget that, although we are the ones who plant and water the seeds, it is Jehovah who makes them grow. (1 Corinthians 3:6, 7) Yet, just as Jesus and the angels accomplish their part of the work, Jehovah expects us to accomplish our ministry fully. (2 Timothy 4:5) May we pay constant attention to our teaching, to our attitude, and to our eagerness in the ministry. Why? Paul answers: “By doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Timothy 4:16.
What Did We Learn?
• In what ways is our sowing work producing good results?
• How are Jesus Christ and the angels involved in the evangelizing work today?
• Why should we be generous as sowers of Kingdom truth?
• When we encounter apathy or hostility in our ministry, what should motivate us to persevere?
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Like farmers in ancient Israel, Christians today spread seeds of Kingdom truth generously
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Jehovah’s Witnesses produce and distribute a wide variety of Bible-based publications in 340 languages