Summary: Growing a mature faith in Christ.
Seeds in the Good Soil
(Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23)
4th in a Series on: Parable of the Soils
“Four-year-old Jason was visiting his grandparents. Grandpa was in his study intently reading. Jason walked in carrying a peach, said something Grandpa didn’t catch, and handed the peach to him.
“Thinking his wife had sent him a snack, Grandpa took it and ate it. Just as he swallowed the last bite, Jason, with lip quivering, said, ‘But, Pap, I didn’t want you to eat it. I just wanted you to get the worm out’” (Edward K. Rowell & Leadership Journal, 1001 Quotes, Illustrations & Humorous Stories for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, 1997), 435).
Does this sound like you? If you’re like me, many times you may have your ears open in a conversation with someone, but your mind is somewhere else. Has this ever happened to you? I mean, you can carry on a conversation with someone, walk away, and completely forget what you just talked about? This is where the fine art of listening comes into play.
When we really take the time to listen, it’s then that we can truly learn and understand. It’s not just enough to hear someone, we must also understand, or the conversation is fruitless. It’s like talking to someone in English who doesn’t know how to speak the language. Though they can hear you, there is a total disconnect.
Jesus tells us that hearing is the first step to having good soil, but we can’t stop there. Not only must we hear the word – the message of God – we must understand it. There’s also one other step: obedience. It really does us no good to hear and understand God’s message if we don’t do anything with it.
Read with me one last time,
Matthew 13:1-9 (NIV)
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “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 it did not have much soil. It 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 root. 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. He how has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:18-23 (NIV)
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealthy choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
I like what Gordon MacDonald has to say in his book Ordering Your Private World in regards to what he calls the “inner garden” of a person’s soul:
"The inner garden is a delicate place, and if not properly maintained will be quickly overrun by intrusive undergrowth. God does not often walk in disordered gardens. And that is why inner gardens that are ignored are said to be empty…
"Bringing order to the spiritual dimension of our private worlds is [what he calls] spiritual gardening. It is the careful cultivation of spiritual ground. The gardener turns up soil, pulls out unwanted growth, plans the use of the ground, plants seeds, waters and nourishes, and enjoys the harvests that results” (Gordon MacDonald, Ordering Your Private World (Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville, Tennessee, 2003), 141).
In order to grow a bountiful harvest the garden of our inner life must be cultivated, tended, nourished, and watered regularly. When we become lax in our responsibility to hear the word and understand it, we become lax in cultivating good soil in our inner life for our faith in God to grow.