If you’re a seasoned pastor, you’ve probably read your way through the Bible a time or two. You can likely recount some of the most well-known stories—David slaying the giant or Moses parting the sea—with drama and excitement. You might even have a decent chunk of Scripture memorized.
Isn’t it awesome when, despite years of reading and rereading the Bible, a particular verse strikes you as totally different? In just one moment, it goes from same old, same old to powerful and life changing.
That moment is what led Dave Briggs, Stewardship Director at Central Church in Phoenix, to see the Parable of the Sower in a whole new way.
The Parable of the Sower
In this parable, Jesus talks about four seeds, all sown in different types of soil. The first three seeds die before they yield any crop. The fourth seed, however, takes root and flourishes.
It was the tale of the third seed that stood out to Dave: “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark 4:18–19)
All of the sudden, it became clear: There’s a distinct connection between our relationship to money and all other aspects of our spiritual life. “When we allow money to gain an improper foothold in our lives, the ability of God’s Word to make an impact is diminished,” says Dave.
You might see this at play in your own congregation—men and women who show up each Sunday, bringing with them loads of potential, yet they lack fruitfulness. Something other than God is center-stage in their heart and mind. For Dave, the Parable of the Sower provides a possible explanation.
The worry of life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for other things are all relevant struggles in today’s highly marketed-to society. Achieving success—as the world defines it—can even seem like a worthy goal. Unfortunately, the wrong outlook on money can cause us to totally miss out on the abundant life God has planned for us.
Move toward abundance
The fourth seed mentioned by Jesus gives us a picture of that abundant life. The only surefire way to protect our hearts against materialism and discontentment is to be firmly rooted in God’s Word—to hear and accept it as the ultimate truth. If you want to see fruit come to bear in your life and the lives of your congregation, you must regularly explore what God has to say about money. Thankfully, the Bible addresses the issue of finances head on, providing tons of examples for us to measure ourselves against.
As an imperfect person, you probably recognize at least one small way that money has an improper foothold in your life. And there’s no doubt your congregation will find themselves facing a similar dilemma. The question becomes, what should we do?
James 4:7 says, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Dave explains it this way: “God has a part, and we have a part.” If we focus our attention on God, not money, then we open ourselves up to experience the spiritual abundance He has planned for us.
By revealing the truth of God’s Word as it relates to money and making it applicable through examples, you can propel your congregation toward fruitfulness.