Learning from the Mustard Seed
Part 3: Trusting in God’s Providence
“The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air can come and shelter in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32 (New Jerusalem Bible)
Another essential step toward the fruitfulness described here is trusting God to provide the resources we need. The only way to get there is via God’s provision; we must trust Him to achieve the full measure of fruitfulness He intends. We fall short if we rely solely on our own strength.
Although seeds have their own supplies of nutrients to get them started, those supplies are far from sufficient to get them to the fruit bearing stage. Think about the time lapse image of seeds sprouting we examined in the last post; they immediately stretched out into the soil for nutrients and towards the sun for energy. They were able to grow into fruitfulness because they took those actions, innately relying on God’s providence. That continues after a plant sprouts; plants extend their roots toward water and some turn to track the sun as it moves across the sky.
We must do the same to reach the level of fruitfulness described in this parable. Jeremiah 17:7-8 tells us that “Blessed is anyone who trusts in Yahweh, with Yahweh to rely on. Such a person is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream … it never stops bearing fruit” (New Jerusalem Bible). Jesus told us the same thing in Luke 12:22-32 and Matthew 6:24-34: we must trust that God will provide what we need to bear the fruit He designed us for. That frees us to focus on the work He called us to, on achieving His purposes.
Scripture also tells us what happens if we rely solely on our selves: “Accursed be anyone … who relies on human strength and whose heart turns from Yahweh. Such a person is like scrub in the wastelands” Jeremiah 17:5-8 (New Jerusalem Bible). John 15:4 and 6 likewise tell us that “a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself;” those who does not abide/trust in Jesus “wither; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire and are burnt”(New Jerusalem Bible).