Like any good Father, God loves to watch His children bloom & grow. It makes Him so proud! But sadly, not all believers are growing. Or it seems that some of us have to work really hard at it without much progress while others seem to naturally thrive. What’s the deal?
Here’s a secret: It’s not because God has favorites or that some people are just more “fortunate” than others. We all have a spiritual green thumb. And A LOT can happen when we use it!
The Parable of The Sower is About You & Me
Matthew 13, through the parable of the Sower, Jesus makes it clear that spiritual growth, or growth in Christ, is all about sowing and reaping, or planting and getting a harvest.
It’s important to understand that Jesus was talking to God’s chosen people when He laid out the parable of the sower. That was who made up the crowd He was speaking to!
I say that because I didn’t always know. For a long time, I thought that the parable of the sower was about unbelievers hearing the Gospel and explaining why they might or might not respond to what they heard.
But no! Jesus was speaking to God’s own chosen people. It was His people who had hard hearts, thorny hearts, shallow hearts or open hearts. And the condition of their hearts determined how/if the Word of God would take root and grow when they heard it and or if they would put The Word into practice in the long run, allowing it to change them.
The seeds of God’s Word are the key to a victorious Christian life, but so is the soil of our hearts!
We all imagine, as Christians, that we have good soil, but do we really? Who is responsible for that soil? And who is responsible for the seed once it is planted?
A farmer went out to sow his seed.
As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path,
and the birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky places, where there was not much soil.
Those seeds sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.
But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched,
and they withered because they had no roots.
Other seed fell among thorns,
which grew up and choked the plants.
Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop
—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Whoever has ears, let them hear.
The parable of the sower tells us that there are 4 types of soil, or hearts (i.e. your mind, will, & emotions), the Word of God gets planted in when it is heard or read.
Heart #1: The Wayside Heart- God’s Words fall by the wayside when we hear them, meaning that we don’t really grab ahold and think on them, mull over them or make them an important part of our thought life. We hear a good sermon or read a good devotional and maybe even think, “That’s right!” or “That’s good!” But then we set that aside and move on into our “everyday lives,” and what we heard or read never becomes a real part of us.
Heart #2: Rocky Ground Heart- This heart is energized and full of hope when it hears God’s Word. We might even practice what we’ve heard or read a few times. But when the going gets tough, we forget or abandon those truths in the midst of what is going on and our growth withers and is forgotten because it never really took root.
Heart #3- The Thorny Heart- This heart has soil that’s ready to receive some seeds! God’s Word gets planted, and we care for and water it. But we also care for and water other seeds too– like worries, busy-ness, unforgiveness, the pursuit of all kinds of things we think are necessary, you know, just “stuff.”
We all know that weeds really don’t need much to thrive. And even if we do manage to keep some weeds in check, before we know it, other “thorny weed seeds” end up taking over our gardens, ultimately crowding out God’s Word… or at least pushing it to one tiny corner…
Doesn’t this sound like the norm? Oh, I wish it wasn’t so!
Heart #4- The Heart’s That Ready- This is the heart we all want to have- it’s a heart that’s not just ready for seeds but excited about nurturing and tending those seeds until a harvest is produced! It’s important to know that it’s not perfect soil, but it is constantly and intentionally being cultivated by a watchful gardener.
This gardener knows about the different types of soils and what can happen to good seed that’s been planted but not tended. She guards her garden and is vigilant to plow, plant, fertilize, guard and water.
She is also careful about her seeds- which seeds she plants, she allows to be planted & which ones she cares for. She knows that the winds of life might blow some unwanted seeds into her garden, but that doesn’t mean those seeds get to stay!
Here’s the truth of the matter, we ALL have each type of soil (heart) at one point or another. Sometimes, even a mixture of soils. The key to having a heart that’s ready is to be aware and to keep “course correcting” so that you have good soil, tended seeds and an actual harvest!
You Can’t Reap a Harvest You Don’t Plant
Sometimes we get frustrated in our spiritual lives because we expect a harvest from seeds we haven’t even planted.
I have hidden your word in my heart
Ouch! But it’s so true. Many times in life, we want to enjoy fruit from a crop that was never planted or from a crop that we don’t want to tend. We just want it to happen. Because God is sovereign. And we’re His children. But that’s not how it works. We have responsibilities.
Are we taking the time to hide His Word in our hearts? To learn about His promises and what He has provided for us through His sacrifice on the cross? Are we planting peace scriptures, healing scriptures, joy and blessing scriptures in our hearts?
And when we learn and hide His Word, are we tending that seed? Do we think (meditate) on it, rehearse it, picture it in our lives, believe it, speak it aloud? Do we guard it and protect it against pressures, cares and circumstances that try to crowd it out?
These are hard questions to ask, but are we really planting and nurturing the spiritual things we want to harvest? Or are we just waiting for them to happen to us?
God’s Word doesn’t just automatically grow inside us, but God does want each of us to grow.
What’s keeping you from bearing the fruit you want? Is it the planting, the tending or the extra seeds that life tends to blow in?
We’ve got some gardening to do!