Human Responsibility & Divine Sovereignty - The Warrior's Journey®

Human Responsibility & Divine Sovereignty

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

. Photo by is licensed under CC By 2.0

“Jesus also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.’” (Mark 4:26-29)  

We love to think of ourselves as always being in control of our life and circumstances. But “in control” are we really? Think of your health. What exactly is your contribution to your own health? You eat the right foods, drink the right liquids, get adequate exercise, and sleep enough hours. That’s not much when you consider all the other things essential for your health.   

For instance, take that heart of yours. It has to beat about 118,000 times each day to pump just under six quarts of blood through 60,000 miles of veins, arteries, and capillaries. These capillaries must carry nutrient-rich blood to 37.5 trillion cells throughout the body – and then carry away their waste. Are you consciously managing all this activity? What about each of those 37.5 trillion cells? Are you making sure that they each replicate, grow, and conduct their assigned maintenance and function? What about the non-stop activity of each organ?  Do you and the components of your body have coordination meetings to ensure everyone knows their mission and your expectations of them? Do you consciously ensure that your lungs keep breathing, your kidneys keep filtering, and your GI track keeps digesting?   

Obviously, there’s a lot of coordinated activity that God handles on our behalf. He allows us to participate in it – by eating, sleeping and exercising. But He does the other 99.99% of what’s required for the business of living. And thank God He does. Can you imagine what life would be like if we had to consciously pump our own heart and lungs?  

If this is true in the physical realm, just think of how much more it’s true in the spiritual. In this parable – found only in Mark’s Gospel – Jesus is making this point. There is a small contribution by the farmer in growing crops. He plants the seed and harvests. But only God performs the miraculous work in the seed and the plant it produces. God does it whether the farmer sleeps or rises. It’s the same way with the work God calls us to do. We certainly have our responsibility – to share the gospel and be a Christian witness. But only God can do the miraculous. Only God can open blind eyes, soften hardened hearts, and raise the spiritually dead to newness of life in Christ.   


  • God commands us to share the Gospel.  Can we say, then, “It’s all up to God?” 
  • Only God can do the miraculous.  Should we then beat ourselves up if people don’t respond to our witness? 
  • Let’s be faithful in planting and watering and trust God to cause the growth. 

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