31 He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It’s the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it’s taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.” 33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into 50 pounds of flour until it spread through all of it.” — Matthew 13:31-33
Lessons from Parables of the Kingdom, Part 1
by Vicki Howell
From small beginnings come great endings. The unassuming and unexpected are used in this parable to demonstrate the spread of the gospel. Like the mustard seed, the Kingdom would begin small and would increase abundantly, becoming a “tree” that would provide for all in its midst in unexpected ways. The work of yeast can appear indiscernible in the beginning, but eventually it makes a big difference. In the same way, the Spirit’s work in our lives comes quietly and personally, yet as we grow in grace through the Spirit of the Lord, mighty things can and do happen.
You don’t have to start big to be used. You can have an impact for the Kingdom of God by being exactly who you are. The tiny mustard seed would never have looked at the other seeds and thought it would one day create a home for many birds. Yeast would never have looked at the other products in the pantry and thought it would be useful to provide wonderful food for many people.
When small things allow themselves to be used, they can become more than they realize. What an amazing thing to recognize, that God will use someone as unlikely as me if I let myself be fully put in the hands of my Creator to be molded, planted, nurtured and worked. And we must remember, even Jesus didn’t come in majestic fashion, but rather in a humble and unexpected way.
Are the things around me so familiar that I stop paying attention to what God is doing? Do I stop expecting mighty work to happen in, around and through me? Do I try to take control because I don’t see things happen quickly enough? As much as I would love to suggest that I do not do these things, if I am honest I have to say I do them all.
God doesn’t “need” me to do His work, but still He chooses to use me…the unlikely, the impatient, the broken and bruised. I am certainly not a perfected vessel, but I am learning that what makes me mature is to be used by God. I am a work in progress.
How do recognize that I am not in control? How do I strive to grow in the Spirit who works within me? Read below for a few suggestions to help you abandon your own way and let the work of the Spirit work in you, just like the leaven works in the bread…slowly, surely and over time.
- Write Scriptures on note cards and place them in places you will see on a daily basis (on mirrors, in your car, in your wallet, etc.) This simple practice helps you to stock your toolbox of Scriptures and allows the Spirit to call them to your mind when you need them.
- Find a community of believers to become part of. It is so easy in today’s society to be “too busy” to get to know people, much less to ask for help when you need it. Having people who know you and who can speak into your life in godly ways is a gift, but it is a gift we have to seek. Ask God to put those people in your life who will truly journey with you and who will point you to God’s words and promises.
- Find time in your day to be quiet. Turn off the radio. Turn off the TV. It is hard to turn off all the noises in your life so you can really be still and listen. Start with ten minutes a day of quiet and see how it may grow over time. My guess is that you will find yourself in conversation with God before you realize it.
- Finally, give yourself some grace. While you do not have to be perfect, if your make your relationship with God a priority, the Spirit will work in your life.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.