The seed of the gospel is available to all. It is sown generously no matter the heart condition of the individual. Its ability to take root and grow when planted is dependent on the condition of the “soil” of one’s heart.
The goal is for you to believe you can make life choices that ensure your hearts are fertile soil for the truth of the Gospel in which to take root.
Develop a deep sense that your connection to the Kingdom of God is directly correlated to the condition of your heart.
Make a conscious choice to adjust your lifestyle, by the help of the Holy Spirit in your life, to create the kind of environment where your relationship with God can grow.
Today, we begin a new 4-week series called Rooted. Psalm 1:3 says that a person “rooted” in their faith shall be, “They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”
For a seed to grow and ultimately prosper it must first be planted. A seed is generally planted in soil and the quality of the soil has immeasurable effect on the growth of the seed.
To begin our series, we will be talking about the planting of the seed and the quality of the soil.
In the Parable of the Sower Jesus says:
Matthew 13:3-9— “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
8 verses later in Matthew, Jesus explains the meaning of the parable to the disciples.
Matthew 13:18-23— “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
Jesus gives us 4 different scenarios of seed being spread in this parable. He explains the seed is the Word, the good news shared with others. The soil is the heart of a person, where the seed of the good news can take root. Jesus makes clear that the problems in the parable don’t occur with the seed, but the problems arise depending on what kind of soil the seed falls onto.
Let’s look at the 4 different types of soil described in the parable of the sower.
#1—A hardened or oblivious heart is a desolate wasteland.
Matthew 13:19— The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.
Some are opposed to the good news and there are those that are oblivious to it. Whether by personal volition or innocent omission, this parable is clear that seed will not grow where there is inhospitable soil.
In fact, the Devil will come and snatch the seed away because he doesn’t want the seed to have any opportunity to take root and grow in a person’s life. This kind of soil will never produce because it cannot reproduce.
#2—A troubled heart produces shallow roots.
Matthew 13:20-21— The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.
Life is a long, and at times, difficult journey. A heart that is troubled by the obstacles and adversity of life will fail to produce deep roots. These individuals have an interest in the Gospel and even seem to embrace it at the beginning of the journey.
However, over time without tending to the growth of the seed of the Gospel they will fall away during the tough times and troubles that all disciples of Christ experience. Jesus warned us…
John 16:33—I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome the world.”
Shallow roots will not sustain a person through the adverse and difficult seasons of life. It takes deep and strong roots growing in healthy soil to weather the stormy seasons.
#3—A distracted heart bears no fruit
Matthew 13:22— The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.
A distracted heart cannot grow the roots needed to sustain life. A heart that cares more for the things of the world than for the things of the Kingdom is not the healthy soil necessary to experience kingdom growth.
Money, status, popularity, and other worldly activities choke out the ability of the seed to get the nutrients and care necessary to grow roots.
Unhealthy and distracted soil is not the place for seed to grow, and not the place to find a harvest of healthy fruit.
#4—A fertile heart sustains life
Matthew 13:23— The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!
A heart that is fertile is one that readily accepts the Gospel seed and does the hard work of nurturing it to grow.
This heart is one that is open to the Truth of God’s Word and open to the transformation that will take place.
This heart is made ready by the prompting of the Holy Spirit AND the participation of the individual.
This heart does not just experience growth for themselves, but impacts those around them.
Healthy soil is where seeds have the most opportunity to grow into life giving plants. For instance, a single healthy apple tree can bear enough fruit to feed dozens of people. Its shade gives rest to those who pass by on hot days. Its flowers nourish thousands of pollinators every spring. And it’s seed spreads and multiplies into an immeasurable amount of other apple trees over the course of its lifetime.
Matthew 13:15— The hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’
Mark 8:35— If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.
Luke 21:34— “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware…”
Proverbs 4:23— Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
What kind of soil describes your heart today? Are you indifferent to the good news of Jesus Christ? Are you needing to spend some time on the condition of your heart so that the seed of the gospel can grow deep and healthy roots? Are you distracted? Are there too many things in your life clamoring for your attention and care?
If you’ve ever had a garden, you know the effort it takes to grow and sustain life in the garden. It’s no different with the eternal garden of your heart where the divine seeds of the gospel and the kingdom are trying to grow. They need healthy soil and consistent care.
What can you do this next week to strengthen the soil of your heart?
Dedicate time in prayer. Remove distractions, no TV, no sleeping in too late, no social media. Dedicate time every morning in the Word of God.