You’ve probably never heard of Ryan Hrelgac from Kemptville, Ontario, Canada. But he’s an incredible young man.
When Ryan was only 6 years old, he learned in school of children in African villages who didn’t have access to clean drinking water. So, he began raising money to help by doing household chores. In a period of 4 months, he raised $70.
Encouraged by his attitude and actions, others began to join Ryan and during the next 12 months, he raised $2,000. Within two years Ryan had raised $61,000.
Today, Ryan is 28, and is responsible for the foundation, Ryan’s Well, which has raised millions of dollars and completed over 1500 water projects in 17 countries, bringing safe water and sanitation to over 1 million people.
Ryan’s story reminds us that from small beginnings can come great results. In a similar but even more profound way is the spread of the Kingdom of God. Jesus illustrated it this way in one of His Kingdom parables.
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” (Matt 13:31-32)
The mustard seed is a very small seed that under good conditions can grow into a herb about 10-12 feet tall. Among Jewish rabbis, a common expression for something very minute was “a grain of mustard.” Jesus even used it to describe one’s faith (Matt. 17:20).
Jesus is saying that the beginning of the kingdom would be, in man’s view, small and seemingly unimportant. Jesus, Himself, was not a strikingly important figure (Isa 53:2). He came from a humble family background. And his followers were not notable figures of their day.
However, from modest beginnings, great growth would occur. Following the resurrection of Jesus the scattered, discouraged disciples would come together in Acts 1:15 and number 120. However, in one day they grew to 3,000. Then 5,000.
Soon the message of Jesus Christ was spreading from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria and then all across the Roman Empire. The apostles would be accused of turning the world upside down.
The growth of the Kingdom has blessed the world. Those trusting in Jesus and following His Word can be found in every corner of the world. Emerson once said that the impact of Jesus upon mankind was “not so much written as plowed into history.”
Several lessons can be learned from this short parable.
(1) Don’t Diminish The Seemingly Insignificant.
What can one person do? One family? One church in a community? Who knows what may be produced through a single seed planted in the fertile heart of a boy or girl?
The churches up here in Canada where we’re working this summer are small in number, but they are strong in faith. Their preachers may not be well known in the States, but they are sowing the seed doing “the work of an evangelist.”
The Word is being preached. Souls are being saved. Saints are being strengthened. Children are brought up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Unknown men and women are faithfully making a difference in the communities where they live.
(2) There is the Potential and Possibility for Great Growth.
Just like the mustard seed has the power to produce, so does the spiritual seed of the Word. And we know that God’s Word will accomplish that which he proposes (Isa 55:10-11).
Recently I was visiting with retired preacher, Jim Nicholson, in South River, Ontario, and he shared his conversion story. Jim grew up in a non-religious home. He knew nothing of the Bible. However, someone shared the gospel with him and he obeyed. After working several secular jobs, he dedicated himself to preaching the gospel. He said that at one point in his work, over 100 people had been baptized into Christ in South River. And who knows how many more have been converted during his lifetime, influenced to remain faithful and have in turn converted others to Christ?
(3) Consider the Blessings Brought to People Who Come to Christ.
What we do now will bless unborn generations. What are we going to leave our children and grandchildren? What spiritual legacy are we leaving for those to lodge in the “branches” resulting in our efforts? Think of the lives that we may be changed? The hope restored? And the eternal implications?
Imagine meeting someone in heaven you never knew on earth. But who learned the gospel from someone you brought to Christ.
The parable of the mustard seed reminds us not to dismiss small acts of kindness. Kind words spoken. And our faith shared.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman