Jesus went on: “Does anyone bring a lamp home and put it under a bucket or beneath the bed? Don’t you put it up on a table or on the mantel? We’re not keeping secrets, we’re telling them; we’re not hiding things, we’re bringing them out into the open.
“Are you listening to this? Really listening?
Listen carefully to what I am saying—and be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.”
Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!
“How can we picture God’s kingdom? What kind of story can we use? It’s like an acorn. When it lands on the ground it is quite small as seeds go, yet once it is planted it grows into a huge oak tree with thick branches. Eagles nest in it.”
With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots.
I love that line, “be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own.” In more literal translations this is the line that says, “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more.” Basically, you will be judged how you judge.
The spin that Peterson puts on this emphasizes the fact that we judge others or measure others in such a way that helps us get ahead. This seems to be a wise way of thinking according to the world. Do whatever you need to get ahead.
We have a word for this: pragmatism.
When you live out of a state of pragmatism then you are simply doing whatever you need to do to “get yours.” This will inevitably lead to a place of compromising one’s values and principles.
Jesus calls us to something more. He calls to live a life that is based not on the pragmatism of the world but from a position of trust and faithfulness.
The story of the farmer is insightful because it opens us to the reality that as you do the right things and not simply doing things right, there will be a reward. Sometimes we can’t see it and maybe we won’t see it. But eventually, there will be a harvest.
The farmer is able to go about his life. He sleeps and gets up. He simply lives and as he does the field grows. When we are trying to manage everything by the “shrewd advice” of the world we struggle to rest. Sure, we may sleep, but will we rest?
When we can know with confident certainty that we have done the right things in faithful obedience to our Lord, then we can rest. We can know that there is a harvest coming.
Pragmatism will certainly fail us. Faithful trust in Christ and his call to love well, never will.