"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow."
(1 Corinthians 3:6)
My grandpa was a poor farmer. He and my grandma ate what they raised and if they didn’t raise it, they didn’t eat it! They did not farm for income, they farmed to survive.
I remember as a small child staying with them on the farm and doing my best to help, getting in the way mostly. I would watch my grandpa take his old ancient one-wheel plow, that was designed to be pulled by a mule, and slowly break up the hard soil of the garden (by the way, he didn’t have a mule; he just pushed it by hand).
Then he would get on his knees and lovingly and carefully plant the seeds, going up one row and down the other. When all was complete, he would pray for God to send the rain to help the seeds grow into mature plants that could be used for food. He knew without the rain, there would be no crop and that meant no food.
Most of you have heard many sermons on this passage of scripture and so have I. They usually center around planting the seed (witnessing) and God making it grow (salvation). I really don’t recall hearing a lot about the watering. That is what I want us to look at. My grandpa knew there must be water for the seed in the ground to grow and if the rain came, God would provide a beautiful crop (the increase).
I think we, as Christians, often fail to water the seed of the Gospel that has been planted by another. Just like my grandpa’s garden... no water, no crop. If the seed of the Gospel is not watered, there is a good chance it will not grow. Let me see if I can explain this by what I have observed in the subculture world of law enforcement.
We all know the cops who are extremely tough, aggressive, loud, angry, and seemingly full of hostile criticism against everything, including anything that is good. This is because they have learned if you trust anything outside of yourself and your partners in this world, you will most likely be let down. I can speak confidently about these officers because, sadly, I was once one of them. But we really do love these guys, we work with these guys, we know they will come running when we need help. We also know deep down inside they need the same Jesus we have and what will happen to them if they leave this world without Him.
We know what to expect if we try to witness to these cops. The thought itself might make you swallow hard. The possible verbal attack to your face, plus the continued attack as you are ridiculed to all the guys you work with, maybe a new nickname, pranks and so on. All of the sudden, you come to work and you feel alone because the weaker officers are afraid if they have too much to do with you, they will face the same wrath.
We, as Christians in law enforcement, must be prepared to water. When one of our Christian brothers or sisters has tried to explain the things of God to another cop and later he or she, in true form, aggressively runs up and gets in our face or tries to promote his message by getting a crowd in the squad room, we need to be ready. This is his or her attempt to discredit the Christian officer who dared to break up the hard soil of this non-believer and plant a seed of the Gospel. This officer could very well be under conviction.
1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” Please don’t stand there in stunned silence and don’t jump on the aggressor’s side by saying something like, “well, I would have never said that” or anything else that would discredit a gospel seed that has been planted! Be prepared with gentleness and respect to give an answer.
You know how to talk to people; you do it every day. Here is a very short example of how I have handled one of these types of situations in the past and I know you can do the same thing. You defuse situations every day; do the same thing here.
Angry Officer walks up and says, “Your Christian buddy must think I’m a real heathen! He tried to tell me about being a Christian! He must really think I’m on the way to hell or something!”
Christian Officer: “You know my Christian buddy really cares about you enough to bring up a subject like this. It’s really an important subject. By the way, in your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes for a person to go to heaven?” This is another opportunity to present the Gospel to this soul.
Then even if Angry Officer becomes defensive, ask him for permission to just have a conversation about spiritual things. Gentleness and Respect. I have never been turned down by any officer I have asked, “can we just have a conversation?”. This includes atheist officers who politely engaged in the spiritual conversation. You don’t have to even defend the first Christian officer. Whatever he or she said, the Holy Spirit used it to bring this lost officer directly to you. Don’t miss it.
Guess what? If you stand up for Christ like this after another Christian has broken the hard ground of a lost soul with Gospel things, you just poured life-giving water on a seed. For your faithful efforts, the Bible tells us God will make that seed grow.
Please don’t miss an opportunity to water.
Paul Lee, Executive Director (Retired Captain, Chattanooga P.D.)
Paul Lee retired from the Chattanooga Police Department with 29 years of service. He has been an FCPO member since 1995, is a former Chapter Chairman and has served in various capacities on the National Board.