Loosened Up At The Roots
James E. Farley
In J. M. Powell’s book, The Man from Mars Hill: The Life and Times of T. B. Larimore, he records how F. D. Srygley wrote to Larimore concerning a long meeting Larimore was engaged in at Sherman, Texas (1894). Srygley wanted to know how the meeting was going, how long it would last, how a preacher could stand preaching in such long protracted works, etc. The meeting had been in progress for nine weeks at that time and eventually lasted for five months. Larimore wrote to Srygley, “We are just now beginning to get things loosened up at the roots. The interest is increasing every day.”
That simple statement speaks volumes concerning the work of preaching the gospel. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said that the seed that falls into the good ground (the “honest and good heart”) will “…bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15). Patience is a key word in the important work of gospel preaching. We must understand that God has His own timetable and He will give the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). His Word will not return to Him void, but will accomplish what God pleases. It will “prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11).
Too often, we want immediate results. We plant the seed and expect to pick a crop right away. We do not expect this in our physical gardens, but we seem to expect it in the preaching of God’s Word, the seed. (Luke 8:11). Paul wrote to the young evangelist, Timothy, concerning the work of an evangelist and said, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2). Note that word, longsuffering. It means patience. Sometimes it takes awhile before the seed can germinate in a person’s heart. He or she has to think on it, meditate about it, ask questions, think on the answers given, etc. “… Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” (James 5:7).
This brings us to another consideration in the process of converting souls for Jesus. Seed must be watered. It may be that one will plant the seed in a man’s heart and another will come along, perhaps in a gospel meeting a year or two later, and water that seed so that it will germinate and sprout. (Compare 1 Corinthians 3:6-7) Those who plant and water are only servants in the process; it is God who gives the increase, and it is He who should have the praise, honor, and glory for all additions to the kingdom.
I remember interviewing Lewis Mikell a few years back for an article in the West Virginia Christian. This was at the time we honored brother Mikell for his 50th anniversary of preaching the gospel in Gallipolis, Ohio. He spoke about gospel meetings when he first began his preaching career, and he told me that in those three, four, and even six and eight week meetings, they hardly ever had a baptism the first week. He said the baptisms came after people had been properly taught and the seed had had time to get into their hearts. He then lamented the fact that today we have, at best, a weeklong meeting, and most often have three or four day meetings.
Brethren, is it any wonder that we are not growing as we once did? The Word says, “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7). You see, the more seed we sow, the more crop we reap. It really is that simple.
Still, there needs to be some “loosening around the roots” done before we will see much results, and this takes time and patience. Many have deep roots in the sectarian churches, family traditions, etc., and this has to be undone. God has not planted these plants, and they have to be “rooted up” (Matthew 15:13). This is where some “reproving, rebuking and exhorting” may come in. This must be done with “longsuffering and doctrine.”
Patiently preach the Word. Allow God to give the increase. He will! -1179 Mark Wayne Dr., Louisa, Kentucky 41230. firstname.lastname@example.org
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