Seed corn: don’t eat it, plant it.
Back when most people grew their own food, that didn’t have to be explained.
When I was a little girl spending my summers on my grandparents’ farm, I learned that you didn’t eat the seed corn. I helped my grandmother pick over a big basket of seed corn that was being put aside for the next year, cleaning the trash and dead bugs out of it.
A seed has life built in, no matter whether it’s corn, or butterbeans, or sunflowers. It doesn’t have to wonder what to do, it “knows” to grow. The faith for growing is entertwined in the life…
But there is something else about seeds. They need stuff. Like soil, food, water, fertilizer, and protection from pests. Today, vegetable and flower seeds are sold in stores with a coating of plant food and/or bug killer surrounding them, so you have a head start on getting a good crop. Smart idea.
Jesus told his disciples, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you can tell this mountain to be removed and be cast into the sea, and it would obey you. (See Matt. 17:20)
Now, a mustard seed is really small. And Jesus was saying they didn’t have even that miniscule amount of faith.
They could have, though. It was offered to them as a gift when Jesus said, “Have the faith of God.” It took Jesus making a gift of it to get it back then, and it still does. That’s how we get saved, born again, in the first place (Eph. 2:8).
And that seed of faith Jesus gives us contains life, just as seed corn contains life.
But some people leave it like that, tiny, encapsulated and dormant, and then they wonder why no mountain ever moves for them.
Mark 4:14-20 explains part of it. Seeds have to be nurtured and cultivated. No self-respecting farmer would plant corn in an uncultivated field full of rocks and briars.
Seeds have to be planted in good soil, soil deep enough to allow for roots to get a good start. And weeds need to be weeded, rocks removed, and critters prevented from getting in.
When my children were small we lived on a mini-farm outside of town, and one summer we planted lots of field peas and corn at a distance from the house. When it was time to pick them, we discovered the raccoons had taken a bite – just one bite – out of every ear of corn. And the deer had made a good meal out of the field peas! The critters won that round and we learned a good lesson. Electric fencing solved that problem the next year.
II Peter 1:5-8 continues the explanation. Faith seeds also need to be fed, watered, and fertilized with virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, kindness and love.
Well, all that takes work. And you have to deal with “critters” like fear and doubt, fatigue or depression, and ordinary every-day distractions from a lot of different sources.
Faith has all the life it needs built right in, just like a seed of corn or field peas. And the nature of life is to grow, mature, and eventually replicate itself.
It takes work to get to that place, but the one who gave us the faith in the first place is still present to instruct us and help us grow it, if we’re willing to do the work.
The Apostle Paul commended the church of the Thessalonians, because “your faith groweth exceedingly…” (II Thess. 1:3)
I would love to receive that compliment some day, wouldn’t you?