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Jesus gave us parables on which to pattern our lives. One of these examples is about the mustard seed that becomes a big tree. It is found in Matthew 13:31. (Also in Mark 4:31, and Luke 13:19)

Jesus tells us about the kingdom of God being likened unto a grain of mustard seed, which is the greatest of herbs, but is the smallest of seeds. The kingdom of God would thus begin small and end big! Remember the words Jesus gave us about the kingdom of God being within us; it begins in our hearts, a small place, but it encompasses others and fills the earth. This is the secret of the mustard seed, we use it in our lives and it changes us and those around us.

Applying the parable personally

Having worked in the garden many times, one really should not be surprised how a tiny seed like the mustard seed can grow up into a big tree and offer shade and support for birds of all kinds. It does take a number of years, however, for the seed to become a tree. Not until we apply Jesus’ words to our life in Christ will we likewise have an impact. It takes many years of applying the commandments of Christ to even make an impact at all. But we should not be discouraged at this, we just need to persevere in our pursuit.

It is important to picture ourselves as a shady tree to which birds would be attracted, because that is indeed what happens when we practice the fruit of the spirit of the gospel. We often start out with a great zeal for Christ, a refreshing energy, and even though our life is new and somewhat undeveloped, through time and experience and through thousands of trials and with new starts of honest endeavor, our hearts soon begin to feel like we are growing. Before long, others come to rest beside us, and they, too, feel the peace and comfort that we may offer to them from the word of God. Our seed grows!

Ten vital characteristics

In a book on this subject (Secrets of the Mustard Seed, by Steven Mosley), the author mentioned ten principles that have small beginnings, and seem quite insignificant in themselves, but when applied to our life, do expand and fill us with joy and peace. They are ten principles that are the basis of the heart of God’s kingdom, which is our behavior toward one another. We know God wants to fill His world with His glory, the attributes of His mercy and grace, and so we must learn how to acquire these attributes. We plan to discuss these ten principles in detail.

Developing a full and rich life that gives God glory begins with developing our capacity to love others. We don’t get love until we give it away. God gave and showed us His love when He gave His only begotten son to cleanse us from our sins. If we give in only small gestures, we can immunize ourselves to love’s grand potential. God does not give in small gestures. He gives continually and always with the best intent in the forefront. He showers us with His long-suffering, and delights us daily with His mercy.

We must learn the principles of reaching out in love to others, extending to them what we have so graciously received from our Heavenly Father. We do not want to keep people at a safe distance, for then we shall miss out on love. We need to begin extending the mustard seed secrets of love until it fills our heart and the heart of others.

How will we respond to the gospel? Will we nourish ourselves and others with the mustard seed promises? Jesus urges us to listen to the words he frequently used. They stand out when we look at his particular phrases: Here are ten words of advice, which we hope to enlarge upon.

  1. Live by faith
  2. Overflow with thanksgiving
  3. Love the truth
  4. Forgive for good
  5. Encourage others
  6. Sustain joy
  7. Persist patiently
  8. Give cheerfully
  9. Spread peace
  10. Make a stand against evil

Ann Crouse

Suggested Readings
The first verse of our reading today in Acts 8 tells us “Saul approved of his [Stephen’s] execution.” The first verse of our reading today in Acts 8 tells us “Saul approved of his [Stephen’s] execution.” He was there when Stephen was stoned to death, but didn’t physically join in the execution, instead “the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:58).
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