Planting the Seed
Matthew 13:3-9 (New Living Translation)
3 He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! 9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
If you plan to grow seeds, you can't just throw the seeds on the ground and expect them to grow. There is a lot to know about sowing seeds. First, you have to know what seeds will grow in what season. Second, you have to know if you have to plant them where they will get full sun, or part sun, depending on the seed. Third, you have to know what soil to plant the seed. Some seeds need soft soil, some can grow in hard dirt.
The same is true when you are trying to plant the seeds of God's word in someone's heart. You can't just throw the word out there. Some people aren't in the right season of life to accept the truth. Knowing if it is the right season, you have to get to know the person. Sometimes, you may plant that seed in the wrong season, but that seed will still be there when their season is right. I planted some bulbs one year. I planted them about a month too late. The leaves sprouted, but it grew no flowers. The next year, when the season was right, I got the flowers I had hoped for the previous year. Just because someone doesn't accept Christ when you offer him to them doesn't mean they never will. They just have to be at the right season in their life for it.
2 Timothy 4:1-4 (New International Version)
1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
We aren't told to only share the gospel with those who are in season. We can't judge that. We have no way of knowing when it is someone's season. All we can do is plant the seed. God will work out the rest.
Some seeds need nice, soft, firtile soil. Some can grow in hard dirt. Not everyone needs to hear the gospel the same way. To someone, you may need to tell them of his love and forgiveness, grace and mercy. Someone else may need to hear of his judgement. How do we know how to approach each different person? I'm not exactly sure.
I suppose if you come across someone who believes in God, but lives a life contrary to that belief, they probably need to be reminded that Jesus loves them and forgives everyone the same. To someone who doesn't believe in God, but live their lives in such a way you would never even think they don't believe, they probably need a different approach. You're not going to get very far preaching forgiveness to someone who lives a pretty straight life. But have you ever tried to water your plants in the middle of the day without getting the hot water out of the hose first? The hot water burns them. We must be careful when using the judgement approach.