Read His Words Before Ours!
As a child, I was taught the parable of The Sower many times. I was shown the differences between varying types of soil. I learned how the soil was a metaphor for mankind’s heart condition… and how those heart conditions affect our response to the Gospel.
At first glance, our attention is caught by the sower. We see him as a farmer, tending his fields, preparing for the impending harvest. (Matthew 13:3) He diligently sows his seed, scattering each kernel to the earth.
For a long time, I perceived the sower to be a believer, just like me.
However, recently God has been showing me that He is the ultimate sower.
He is constantly seeking the harvest as He invites believers to scatter and plant the seeds.
Anyone who has spent any time gardening can attest that not every seed planted will grow. Lack of water, sunlight, proper soil…or in my case because I do not have a green thumb! Discouragement looms when our hard work doesn’t yield fruit.
If you’re anything like me, you may give up on growing that beautiful garden.
Thankfully, and contrary to my own actions, the Sower in this story doesn’t give up.
Regardless of adversity, he sows anyway.
Continuing through the story, we discover what type of ground the seeds were sown along. (Matthew 13:4) As seeds were sown, some fell along a path.
When I think about that path, I always visualize a cement sidewalk.
Hardened. Solid. Impenetrable.
The sower in our story attempted to elicit life and growth by scattering seeds of truth, but the hard heart would not accept that life.
When our hearts are cold and hardened like a cement walkway,
we may hear the Gospel,
but the walls we’ve built around us will not allow us to actually listen to that truth.
Because the message falls on our willfully deaf ears,
we allow no opportunity for the Gospel to spark change within us.
The second type of soil referenced invokes the picture of a new believer. They are on fire for the Lord, eager to become involved in every service opportunity and Bible study.
However, their fire quickly burns out, going up in smoke.
Rather than digging deep into the Word for themselves and cultivating an active and living relationship with God, they expect to be fed by sermons and community alone. (Matthew 13:5-6) Their failure to invest in a personal relationship with Jesus leaves them feeling cold and alone.
The third type of soil portrays the picture of a redeemed heart that chooses to be surrounded by unbelievers. Rather than purposefully cultivating community with other believers, they spend their time with those who do not love Jesus. Those given permission to speak into their life, speak words of death, confusion, and sin. The redeemed heart may think they are sowing seeds of their own accord, but in reality, they are weakened by the folly of those around them and they fail to see what has entangled them. (Matthew 13: 7)
The final type of soil is the one we should all long to be: a heart open and ready to receive; one which pursues growth and change through the power of God’s grace. (Matthew 13: 8)
This heart is truly eager for redemption and longs to put aside behaviors and choices of a life once lived in vain.
As I contemplate the different types of soil and how they correlate to our hearts,
I see how my own life echoes the parable of the sower.
I see a God who intentionally scattered seeds throughout my life in every stage.
I still remember when my heart was hardened to the things of God and to His Gospel.
I remember when He told me He would replace my heart of stone (Ezekiel 36:26),
but I refused to allow anything He said to take root in my heart.
Yet, He never stopped sowing.
He wanted to give me a new heart!
And one day, He did replace my heart of stone…but then I was the soil with no depth.
Rather than flourishing, I withered away because I did not pursue community or a lifestyle of digging in to the Word. I had not stored His Word in my heart, so I sinned against Him. (Psalm 119:11)
I sinned against Him with the “friends” I had. Friends who didn’t truly love God or seek to encourage godly growth. So, the seeds that had been sown, began to be choked out by thorns of negative influence. Those thorns led to sinful decisions. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Until, finally, God broke me.
He had prepared my heart and when the seed fell, it was on good soil.
Finally, His seed produced good fruit!
The parable of the sower reminds us that if we truly want to be like Christ,
then we must be about His business.
Just as the God-boy, Jesus spoke truth in the synagogue when Mary and Joseph couldn’t find him, (Luke 2:49) we must also be ready to sow seeds when the Holy Spirit prompts us.
Just as a farmer prepares his soil for the seed, God prepares the heart to receive His truth.
We are not responsible for softening hearts; He will handle that!
Our task is to remain obedient, in step with Him, and aware of His leading, remaining ready for His use. Rather than focusing on the conditions of others’ hearts, let us remain focused on the condition of our own hearts so we are ready when He is to just keep sowing!
*Written by Audra Darville and Merry Ohler
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!