Scripture Reference: Matthew 13:1-23
There are many critics to the word of God. They don’t realize that the reason they cannot respond in a fruitful way to hearing the word is because the condition of our heart determines how we respond to the Word. There is nothing wrong with the Word. The Word of God is perfect. Therefore, when we see the word as an obstacle or as nonsense, we would do well if we do introspection rather than lashing out at the Word.
Some have a tendency to thrash anything they don’t understand but this is an attitude of folly. Wisdom listens closely and learns. A wise person knows that just because he doesn’t understand something doesn’t mean it is rubbish. He realizes that he still has much to learn and that he doesn’t know everything.
Jesus told a parable to relate how the condition of our hearts affect the way we respond to hearing God’s word. He told a parable about seed and with that He brought the message close to the hearts of His audience. They understood very well what happened to seed once it is sown. In this parable, the seed falls on four different types of soil and in each case the condition of the soil determines whether the seed will produce a fruitful harvest or not. The soil represents the condition of the heart and the seed is the word of God. The action of sowing is hearing the word and the Sower is Jesus Christ.
Seed along the Path:
The path represents the hearts of people who hear God’s word but don’t understand it. A path is a place of ample foot traffic. Nothing much gets an opportunity to grow there as many feet trample and compact the soil. Neither is much attention given to nourishment of soil on a path. When we have too much “traffic” in our hearts; too many voices of others; too many views and popular opinions; too much of following the latest trends, there will be no room left to open our hearts to the message of the kingdom.
We are closing ourselves to the understanding that comes from listening to God’s voice. So just like the birds have an easy time picking up seed that fall along a path, so the devil has an easy time taking away the message we hear from our hearts so that it may never take root and fill us with the truth. We remain in darkness and our lives remain fruitless.
Seed in Rocky Places:
The rocky places depict the uneven ground of a person’s heart who is the slave of his own emotions. Then he’s super-happy; then he’s down in the dumps. His emotions call the shots. Whatever he feels now becomes the ultimate truth. When he hears the message, he is very excited about what he heard. He is filled with joy, but at the first sign of opposition or a challenge or hardship, all the emotions wear off and out goes the joy with the feel-good emotions.
As I grew up, I often heard people accusing others of “stealing their joy.” People can only steal our joy if we let them. Besides, the joy of the Lord is deep seated and not dependent on emotions or whoever comes our way during that day. The joy of the Lord is much more profound. But people who are superficial in nature –always responding to outside stimuli and never having any inner peace – they are the ones who lack spiritual roots.The first sign of a setback and all their so called interest in Christ and His message is out of the window. He allows the problems of the moment to cast a shadow on the truth of the message. He makes his problems bigger and his God smaller.
In Jeremiah 17 there is a metaphor of a tree planted by waters. A person with deep spiritual roots will be like a tree by the river. Its roots go so deep, that even drought and bad weather will have no effect on the fruitfulness of this tree. Another example is found in Psalm 1, where it is written that the man who avoids bad company, bad advice and avoid those who mock the word of God are the people who are blessed and are like trees that are planted by the waters. Not even their leaves will wither.
Seed among the thorns:
These are those chronic worry worts. They sit attentively and listen to the word, but as soon as they leave they allow the concerns of this world to choke whatever they have received. Once they have to live life, they are either consumed by concerns of protecting their money or their concerns about a lack of money.
The root cause of this heart’s attitude is a lack of trust in God. They don’t really believe God will supply their needs. They don’t understand that God is their Protector. They are consumed by thoughts about how they must make things happen.Some are so ambitious that the word is more of an obstacle than a help in their pursuit to get to the top. In both cases the word is fruitless in the lives of such people.
Seed on Good Soil:
The good soil is the heart of someone who listens closely and then applies what he has heard. They drown out other voices. They don’t allow their emotions to determine how spiritual they feel. They don’t allow cares and the love of money to distract them from the truth in the word.
They are fruitful and produce a harvest that benefit many others around them. Their hearts are good soil and the benefits extend beyond personal benefits. So many others benefit as well because of their understanding of the word. When they speak a word, they bring enlightenment and encouragement. But they also walk the talk. Their actions testify that they have applied what they have heard. The word of God is not cute little sayings to them.
Since Jesus is the Word (see John 1:1), we can only be fruitful as we remain in the word. Not once a week, but everyday living out what He teaches. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ but don’t do as I say?” He taught us to remain in Him so that we may remain fruitful.
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
- Wheat, Tares, and the Mustard Seed: by Karen Norris (briancoatney.com)
- Small Beginning – Huge Result (thoughtsonscripture.com)
- 5 lessons from the garden about fruit bearing (christianpf.com)