Mark 4:3-8 MSG “What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.”
Hearing the word, understanding the word, believing the word, and applying the word are all different things. The parable of the sower is a story where Jesus brilliantly explains how people tend to react when they hear the gospel. The dry-cracked earth, stoney ground, dirt with weeds, and good fertile soil are all images that represent humanity’s heart condition. God is the farmer and his word is the seed.
It’s time for a check-up. Let’s take a closer look at each of these conditions to understand the state of our own hearts.
This type of soil is dehydrated and inhabitable. It represents those with hard hearts who don’t really even consider the gospel, for it to take effect in their lives. What’s interesting is Jesus never says why this type of soil is so hard, but if we apply common sense, perhaps we might guess the elements of nature, abuse, and or neglect are some likely culprits.
If we’re not careful, we can allow trauma and the turbulent storms of life to turn us into dry-cracked earth with no capacity to receive the blessings of God. Change takes assessing your heart before addressing the challenges around you. Do you find yourself, at times, operating from a hard heart? Acknowledging your current heart condition is the first step. Ask God to unearth the pain points that are blocking the change you desire.
Here, we’ve actually got some soil mixed in with dry-cracked earth. “Luke-warm Christian” may be a term you’ve heard used to describe this type of person. The good news of salvation is pleasing to them, but they haven’t fully grasped the cost of change. So naturally, when things get a little tough or confusing, they simply back out of the deal.
We can often be tempted to think that God wants to restrict us, and that following him means we will experience pain and suffering. While it may be true that some moments are difficult, there’s an option to gain a far greater return. A relationship with Jesus, like any other relationship, requires commitment to keep you going through the rough times.
Dirt with Weeds
Weeds are interesting. Why? Because they are kind of like nature’s double-edged sword. They provide a cover to stop soil erosion from heavy rains until hardier brush, shrub, and trees return. Yet, they compete for water, nutrients, and light. Does this sound like a good analogy for people and their relationship with money and material things?
Money and material goods provide security, but when prioritized in the wrong way, our capacity to love will shrink. Starting off strong is great, but if regular gardening and maintenance through prayer, generosity, and humility isn’t done overtime, our trees can be choked out by some pesky weeds.
Good Fertile Soil
The good soil is the sweet spot. It is required for the word of God to be effective and produce everlasting fruit. This type of person has received salvation and applies the knowledge of the gospel to every aspect of their life.
It’s possible that some of us may have represented different types of soil at different seasons in our lives. But the word of God also shares with us that the righteous man falls seven times and still gets back up. This isn't a complacency hall pass, but rather a word of encouragement that says keep going and don't give up!
This parable is challenging because it forces us to take a look at who we are. In the end, as long as we are living, we have the opportunity to keep working towards becoming and maintaining good fertile soil. Today, take some time to evaluate your heart condition toward the gospel. How has God been prompting you into doing the work of becoming and maintaining good fertile soil?