Vol.X No.XII Pg.2
February 1974

"Lift Up Your Eyes- - -"

Dan S. Shipley

In the parable of the seed and the sower (Lk. 8), Jesus likens the dispositions of men in receiving the word of God to various kinds of soil receiving the seed. Of the four types of soil depicted, only in that one identified as good ground did the seed spring up and bear much fruit. In terms of people this represents those which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

While it is important to understand the kind of heart which will receive and respond to Gods word, it is equally important to understand that we cannot determine who has such a heart! Failure to realize this prompted many to become soil inspectors, deciding who will and who wont receive the gospel seed. It is my judgment that this practice has hindered our sowing efforts immeasurably. We simply do not have the right to decide for anyone that they will not accept Gods word— especially in view of the grave consequences involved. We may think we know, but the truth is that we do not and cannot really know who may respond to the gospel call. For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him?... (1 Cor. 2:11).

Such grading (and degrading) of prospects may be associated with at least two mistakes. First, we overrate our ability to judge character; secondly, we underrate the power of the gospel to change men. Too often our idea of a prime candidate for conversion is the person of high principles and good morals. In other words we mostly look for a Cornelius or a Lydia-type to convert while ignoring the lost among the scourge-of-society types. To most of us the adulterous Samaritan woman would have been considered poor pickins. But she not only responded to Christs teaching, she brought others to Him. And from that city many of the Samaritans believed on him because of the word of the woman... (Jn. 4:39). Perhaps the disciples of Jesus had been thinking it a waste of time to talk with such a person for in this same context they are told, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest. (v. 35) Would you have taken the gospel to such a woman? — even if she had been your next-door neighbor?

Brother Clyde Goff of California has recently told me of remarkable cases of conversion including nightclub entertainers, bar-tenders, go-go dancers, hippy-types, drunkards and would-be infidels. He says they often make the most diligent and zealous workers in the church! Why do we shun such characters? Christ died for them! Many such people desperately want something better. In the gospel we have what they need most! Will we withhold it? Do we not appreciate the unsearchable riches of Christ and its power to save souls? What or who have we to fear? Perhaps we too need to lift up our eyes. We may see that the very richest soil is to be found in those places we have been most reluctant to sow the gospel seed. We may see the need to do more sowing and less inspecting. We may see the real need of all the world and every creature.