“A farmer went out to his field to sow grain. As he scattered the seed on the ground, some of it fell on a footpath and was trampled on; and the birds came and ate it as it lay exposed. Other seed fell on shallow soil with rock beneath. This seed began to grow, but soon withered away and died for lack of moisture. Other seed landed in thistle patches, and young grand stalks were soon choked out. Still other fell on fertile soil; this seed grew and produced a crop one hundred times as large as he planted.” (Luke 8:5-8)
Years ago I would have looked at this scripture, rolled my eyes and said, What in the world does a farmer scattering seeds have to do with God or with me? I didn’t understand that this story paralleled the condition of our hearts in regards to our relationship with God. Like the farmer, God scatters good seeds. Only, He scatters His seeds upon the soil of our hearts. Let’s look at the next few verses for a better understanding of the type of soil we have in our heart.
“This is the meaning: The seed is God’s message to men. The hard path where some seed fell represents the hard hearts of those who hear the words of God, but then the devil comes and steals the words away and prevents people from believing and being saved.” (Luke 8:11-12)
Have you ever gone to church and heard a fantastic message only to go home shortly after and completely forget what you just heard? Sometimes it might just be, as my friend Jan says, a “mental-pause” that causes you to experience a brain freeze. But other times, our hearts are hard and unwilling to really change, even if the message is fantastic. In turn, the devil has an open door to snatch up the good word right from our hearts before it even has a chance to settle in as truth.
“The stony ground represents those who enjoy listening to the sermons, but somehow the message never really gets through to them and doesn’t take root and grow. They know the message is true , and sort of believe for awhile but when the hot winds of persecution blow, they lose interest.” (Luke 8:13)
During my “habit” years, or the years I went to church only because it was the “right thing to do,” I enjoyed being entertained. I was entertained by the music, the dynamic speakers and by the few good jokes the pastor would include as part of his sermon. It was all so amusing. It certainly did give me the warm fuzzies for an hour or so on Sunday mornings, but as soon as a friend and I got into a disagreement… as soon as my phone was turned off because I forgot to pay the bill… as soon as my employer spoke of layoffs… the stony ground of my heart revealed itself, and I lost all interest in the Sunday morning entertainment and in the Word of God.
“The seed among the thorns represent those who listen and believe God’s words but whose faith afterwards is choked out by worry and riches and the responsibilities and pleasures of life. And so they are never able to help anyone else to believe the Good News.” (Luke 8:14)
Ouch! I wish I could say that my faith is rock solid and never challenged by worries or responsibilities. To claim as much would be a lie. This verse represents one of the key struggles in our Christian walk. We hear God’s Word, we believe God’s Word, we’ve experienced the benefit of His Word and yet…We worry, we stress, we fret. The responsibilities and pressure that come from today’s society can be overwhelming, causing the very thing we believe in to be choked out.
“But the good soil represents honest, good-hearted people. They listen to God’s words and cling to them and steadily spread them to others who also believe.” (Luke 8:15)
Yes, good heart-soil represents honest, good-hearted people, but before you pat yourself on the back for being so “good,” consider the words of Kirk Cameron, former star of the 80’s hit sitcom, Growing Pains. When witnessing, Kirk asks people, “Do you consider yourself a good person?” The majority of the time, they answer yes. Kirk then proceeds to ask a series of questions based on the Ten Commandments. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever lusted with your eyes? As the “yes” answers roll in, Kirk gently reminds us that while we may consider ourselves basically good-hearted people, just because we haven’t broken some of the more serious commandments, doesn’t mean we haven’t fallen short of the glory of God. In other words, we all have heart-soil that needs continual cultivating in order to bring forth good fruit.
What type of fruit will our hearts bring forth you ask? Where the farmer may yield a harvest of apples and grains, our fruitful harvest will be reflected in our spirit which will overflow with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. (Galations 5:22) Now tell me, which one of us could honestly say that we don’t need a harvest like that coming from our heart?
Take a moment today to consider the quality of your heart-soil. Is it a hard, stony, thorny soil, or is it a rich, first-rate soil ready to receive the seeds of God’s Word, and willing to bring forth fruit?