Summary: A Christian’s spiritual life goes through a process that is often similar to the seasons of the year.
THE SEASONS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE
John Tung, 11-16-03
November is an interesting month.
You have rain, sometimes, even snow, in November. It gets warm and it gets cold. It is windy; it is mild. And of course the leaves turn beautiful colors. It has a little bit of everything. It is also one of the attractions of living in the Northeast, seeing the colors change.
And it made me think about the seasons of life, that there is an ongoing pattern that develops in our life. It also made me think about the seasons of our spiritual life, that perhaps there is also a pattern there too, with highs and lows, ebbs and flows, that we go through.
There is another reason why I thought of this topic. It came from reading a parable that Jesus told. The parable does not, I repeat, does not, say anything about the seasons of life, but there were ideas in there that made me think about the seasons of life.
Let me show you what I mean by asking you to turn to the Scripture passage for today. It is in Lk. 8:11-15. [Read.]
II. The Four Conditions of the Human Heart
We are all familiar with this parable.
It has to do with the fact that some people respond to Jesus’ words, while others do not. It is a curious phenomenon, why some people come to believe in Christ, while others do not. I am sure a lot of studies can be done on this theme.
And Jesus uses the different kinds of soil to compare it to the different conditions of the human heart. Some are soft enough to receive the words of Christ, while others are hardened and the words of Christ bounces right off of them.
But when I looked at the third soil closer, I noticed something.
There, in the third soil, in vs. 14, it says, “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”
The question I asked myself is whether this third soil is a believer or not.
I know that the first two are not believers, since the first one it clearly says in vs. 12 that “the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.” So the first type is not saved.
The second type of soil believes for a little while, “but in the time of testing they fall away.”
This type of soil looked like it would turn out great, but there was no root, no depth, no real faith in their hearts, and in the time of testing, it fell away. So this type did not believe in the long run.
The third type though is a bit tricky.
It took root, but it was choked internally by worries and outwardly by circumstances, so that it does not mature.
It does not mature. Does that mean it represents a person who believed in Christ or not?
You can have a good debate on this. But I tend to think that this person believed, but was not very fruitful.
My corroborating evidence comes from 1 Cor. 3, where it says that some people build their lives on Christ using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw. The person who built on Christ using wood, hay or straw will have his works tested and it will be burnt up. Yet, in 1 Cor. 3:15, it says, “If it is burned up, he will be suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
So, he is saved, but just barely. He will not be rewarded further in heaven except that he will be in heaven through what Christ has done for him. I think this is like the third soil.
The fourth soil of course is the best soil. It is the picture of a person who has received Christ by faith, and then proceeds to build a strong life upon Christ through service to him that results in abundant blessings to other people.
But if the third type of soil is also a believer, then it made me think that perhaps Christians can also go through times of life when they are not so mature, when they are not that fruitful, when they are not really growing.
And if that is the case, then I would compare the third soil to the fall season.
It is not quite the winter season, which can be compared to the first soil. When the soil is hard and frozen and nothing gets planted.
It is the fall season. When leaves are falling, when we are not so fruitful as in the summer.