James Bender, in his book How to Talk Well, relates the story of a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair it won a blue ribbon. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned that the farmer did something very interesting. He shared his seed corn with his neighbors. The reporter asked: “Why would you share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering in competition with yours each year?”
“Why sir,” replied the farmer, “didn’t you know? the wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.”
We have a noxious weed that has spread all across the northwest called Russian knapweed. It was apparently introduced to our country by bee keepers from Russia since honey bees love it and it does make some of the very best tasting honey—we know because we usually have 24 bee hives on our place and that is their main source of nectar to produce their honey. While we really like the honey from our bees, we don’t want to let our property be taken over by knapweed. It squeezes out the grass in our lawn and hayfield, so occasionally I have to spray it in the spring to control it. But, it also grows on our neighbor’s property, so we offer to spray his as well, otherwise the millions of seeds produced just blow over and make it impossible to control our knapweed.
So, I understand the principle of the man growing his prize corn and that is the connectedness of life. If we want to have a relatively weed-free yard, we have to help our neighbors have weed-free yards. We come to realize that the value of life is measured by the lives it touches. If we want to be successful, we have to help those around us be successful. The welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all. So, when we have something good, we shouldn’t keep it to ourselves but should share it. It is when we give that we receive—and in greater measure. That was a principle taught by Jesus, as recorded in Luke’s gospel: “Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Lk. 6:38). The imagery is of a container of grain filled to the brim and running over the edge. God made us in such a fashion that “no man is an island,” that is, we are interconnected and what we do affects many around us. It’s kind of like the commercial on television for the Bank of America that shows how “we’re all connected to the same bank,” and says , “Life’s better when we’re all connected.”
Unfortunately our old sinful nature rebels at the idea of helping others succeed and instead falls prey to the principle that was conveyed in a best-selling book from a few years back entitled Looking Out for Number One. We have the inherent tendency to walk over others to try to get where we want to go. We try to achieve at the expense of others, often leaving a wake of hurt feelings and broken relationships and anger and bitterness. The disciples of Jesus were no different. They too had the same sinful nature inherited from Adam that we have. Matthew records: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’” (Mt. 18:1). Two of the disciples, James and John, on another occasion, “came up to Him (Jesus), saying to Him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of You…Grant that we may sit in Your glory, one on Your right, and one on Your left’” (Mk. 10:35,37). The other disciples “began to feel indignant with James and John” (v. 41), probably because they hadn’t thought of asking Him first!
Jesus called His disciples together and shared a very radical idea, completely contrary to their mindset. He said: “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:42-45). “Christ came to earth to teach us that true success isn’t what we achieve by pushing others aside as we strive to win the prize. True success comes when we show love and concern for others, when we seek to share the best with them, and when we freely and joyously celebrate their victories (and successes). The greatest joy (of course) comes when we share our faith with someone else” and get to see the transformation God makes in their life when they trust Him for eternal life. When we see their joy, our joy is full and overflowing as Jesus promised in Luke 6:38. It’s because God made us to be interconnected. Although the old flesh, which is in rebellion against God, tries to run rough shod over others in an attempt to achieve success and be happy, our new nature as believers is both God-centered and others centered, and produces in us true joy and “success” when we put Him and others first. Paul wrote: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3,4).
“Share the best that you have with others; then watch it grow and flourish” (Quotes are from God’s Children by Richard Evans, 3-27-2015). Of course, the best thing that we have is eternal life in Christ. Pray that God will give you an opportunity to share Him with someone this week.