21 February, 2012
The Parable of the Soil
In Mark the 4th chapter, Jesus told a parable in which he spoke about four types of soil that represent the condition of the human heart. Notice, the seed is the same.
3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. 5 Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. 7 And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
9 And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Some fell along the wayside and was immediately devoured. But the second type of soil... this is interesting. Jesus calls it stony ground. It receives that seed... but it has a shallow heart. Here Jesus is referencing someone who will not allow the Word of God into his or her heart with any depth. They joyfully receive the promises of God... and they sure do look pretty as they spring up quick and draw attention to themselves... but they have not developed roots. This type person has no real personal confidence in his relationship with the Lord. There is an outer layer of spiritual assent but no real depth because beneath the façade of spirituality he remains self-centered, untrusting, and unchanged. I looked up that word "facade" and this is what the dictionary said:
"The front of a building, especially an imposing or decorative one that covers or hides the existing building. Any side of a building facing a public way or space and finished accordingly. A superficial appearance or illusion of something that is not there." A facade may give the appearance of something new... but behind the facade it is the same old structure.
This is the type person who really wants and desires the fruit of a life that is totally turned over to God... and yet, they refuse to let go of their carnal state of mind. They are never consistent. They are the "up and down, in and out" variety of Christian. They are on top of the world spiritually, for a season... then they are cutting themselves off from everyone, isolating from church and fellow believers and the world. They will tell everyone that "the Lord is leading them" to do this, but the reality is, they are in the midst of their own spiritual meltdown or crisis because they have no depth to their relationship with Christ. They will often find themselves running from teacher to teacher, revival to revival or spiritual fad to fad. They set down no roots. And you will often find this type person blaming God, the pastor and the church for the mess they are in... so they change churches every couple of years. Because their heart is so hardened that they fail to recognize that it is themselves who have kept the Word out of those inward places of their life. Consequently, they exercise little spiritual power and can do nothing to help their fellowman for any prolonged period of time. They spring up quickly in this shallow soil, but because they have no root, they quickly wither and die. They mean well... but their shallowness prevents the Word from ever truly taking root, so when Satan brings trouble into their life they begin to distrust and abandon the promises of God...as well as the people around them and they fail to complete the tasks they started.
There is a third kind of soil in this parable... and it represents the condition of the heart Jesus called thorny soil. This is an overcrowded heart. The seed of God’s Word planted in ground cluttered with cares and anxieties will yield no fruit. Within the soil of the overcrowded heart are the weeds of doing-too-much and misplaced priorities. As a result, there remains little room for the newly planted seed of God’s Word to grow. We need to understand that it is so easy to innocently become over-involved with harmless activities of life, and the danger is that we can become so busy that we are distracted so that God’s Word has very little priority, therefore the Word has no real effect in our lives. The cares of life rob us of the time of fellowship and closeness with God. When we are constantly busy and distracted by projects, events and duties, there simply is no time to spend alone in fellowship with God... because we are too busy! When we seldom find that "intimate time" with the Lord, the cares of this life "choke out" the seed of the Word and we fail to bloom in the way we ought.
First Peter 5:7 says, “…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Cares, anxieties, worries, and concerns fill our minds, distracting us from intimacy with God. They become seed thoughts that will begin to choke out the Word.
Make no mistake about it... our inner man will receive whatever seed we plant.
The seed of God's Word is always the same... but the question is, what is the soil like? This is why the Word itself tells us to "break up the fallow ground." We have to dig up the hardened places in our heart... remove all the stones and "junk" that is in that soil that is cluttering our life and hindering the growth from that seed. That's our job. We must break up the ground and rid ourselves of those things that choke out the Word.
Proverbs 4:23 warns about the importance of guarding our hearts. It says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” We are responsible for diligently guarding our hearts against becoming shallow or overcrowded. When we do this, then the life of God will flow freely from our inner man and our outward lives will begin to reflect the blessing of God.