The Kingdom, by Witness Lee

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Now we come to the parable of the mustard seed (13:31-32). The Lord Jesus said that the mustard seed is the smallest of the seeds, yet it grows into a great tree. Although it may not be readily apparent, this also is damage caused by Satan. According to Genesis 1, all the vegetables are to reproduce each after its kind, and the animals each after its kind. For example, a peach tree should bring forth after its kind, and an apple tree should bring forth after its kind. Therefore, an herb should be after its kind, and a tree should be after its kind. However, in this parable we see something that grows not according to its kind—an herb becomes a tree. This is growth out of proportion and growth which breaks the regulation of the life law. With every kind of life there is the life essence, the life power, the life shape, and the life law. We have the confidence that if a peach sprout grows, it will become a peach tree, it will attain the height of a normal peach tree, and it will bring forth peaches. We do not need to be concerned that the peach tree might grow into another kind of tree and not produce peaches. This is impossible, for within the peach sprout is the peach life, and within the peach life are the peach essence and the peach law which regulate its development. According to its law of life, the peach sprout will grow into a peach tree and will bring forth peaches.

A Great Tree

The mustard herb, however, grew into a great tree. The shape, nature, and form were changed; it broke the law of life and grew out of proportion. This represents Christendom. Christendom has become a great tree. According to its nature, a mustard herb is small and good for food. But this herb grew out of proportion and became a great tree with many evil birds lodging in its branches. As such it was no longer good for food. Earlier in the same chapter, the Lord Jesus told us the interpretation of the birds, saying that they were the Devil and his angels. Many evil spirits lodge in Christendom today. The branches have become the lodging place of demons. This should not be a mere doctrine to us; we must have the practical application.

Growing out of Proportion

The mustard herb became a great tree by breaking the life law and growing out of proportion. What does this mean? Many Christians are ambitious to be great. To desire to be great is very dangerous because it can break the law of life. We thank the Lord that the move of His recovery in this country has been growing gradually throughout the years. When we conducted the training on the Psalms in 1969, we had seven hundred attendants. In 1972 we had close to 2200, more than three times the number in 1969. This has been the proper growth. Although it has been rather slow, it is nevertheless the normal growth. During the past years we have been growing slowly because we do not like to have a big work. Therefore, we do not use propaganda and advertisements. Recently, a reporter from a newspaper contacted one of the brothers, wanting to give us some advertisement and publicity. The brother told the reporter that we do not like to be advertised. We prefer to remain hidden. We are a little mustard herb; we do not want to be a great tree. According to the natural human concept, it is good to be a mushroom, growing up overnight. A mushroom grows up overnight, but it also disappears overnight. Anything that comes fast will also go fast. You can be sure of this. Let us seek the growth in the proper proportion according to the law of life, growth that is after its kind. We do not want growth that is out of proportion and not after its kind. We will not rise up fast; neither will we go down fast. We must grow according to the law of life and be after our kind, in the proper proportion. I advise you never to use any advertisement. If you are going to get a name, it is better to have a bad name. Let people speak about you in an evil way. Do not display your best points to people. If people come to examine you, let them find out your weak points. We have always practiced this because we do not want to be great. We desire to remain a little mustard herb and never become a great tree. In the Lord’s recovery we have no giants. If anyone comes to your locality asking who is your minister, you should tell him that everyone is a minister. Even the little sisters are ministers. We do not have a great leader; we are the little mustard herbs.

(The Kingdom, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)