Sunday, we began our new series on the study of the parables. We began with the “Power” parables from Matthew 13, the first of which is the parable of “The Sower.” It goes like this, from Matthew 13:1-9 –
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”
What a great way to start this chapter. I can easily envision Jesus sitting down on the boat, with no notes at all, looking out in the fields and seeing a farmer doing the very thing he speaks about. No machines, no tractors, just a bag of seed and a farmer, spreading the seed around his beloved fields.
The farmer is Jesus – and one thing that I quickly notice is that he did not discriminate where the seed was thrown. If we are to be sowers like Jesus, we need to realize first and foremost that it is not our responsibility to determine whether or not the soil is fertile. We just need to plant the seeds.
There is a lot of power in a seed. Such a small item can grow to produce might trees, taller than buildings, stronger than man made items, that produce life and fruit. There is no problem in the seed that is being thrown, nor in the one sowing the seed.
The problem lies in the soil.
Many of us as Christians automatically assume since we’ve given our lives to Christ, that we must indeed be the good soil, but I don’t necessarily think that is true. I believe all of us at one point or another in our lives have evidence of there being a layer of hard soil, rocky soil, thorny soil, and the good soil.
The hard soil is a soil that has been packed down, worn as people and animals have walked on it over an over again. The seed lands on it, but has no chance at all to dig and grab hold of anything. Before it has a chance, its taken away by the evil one.
The rocky soil is perplexing. It looks like normal, good soil. However, a few inches below lies the rocky layer. A seed can begin to grow, and even become a sizable plant, but its roots never fully plunge beneath the surface. We have some woods in our back yard, and the other day I was able to pull an eight foot tall tree right out of the ground, roots and all. It looked like a tree that was developing, but really, it was just growing on the surface. It had no chance to survive.
The thorny soil (or weeds) also pose an interesting dilemma for us. All of us worry about things – but many of us allow the worry to choke out the spiritual. We let the worry of where our next mortgage payment will come from choke out the blessings that God promised us. In Matthew 6, Jesus reminded us that if God will take care of the birds and the flowers, will He not take care of us as well?
And finally – the good soil. We can’t just assume because we’re going to church and living a Christian life that it means we’re automatically part of this good soil. Good soil allows a seed to grow, take root, and produce fruit. If we look at the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control), and we’re not producing these things, maybe we’re not quite the good soil we think we are.
Lord, make all of our hearts good soil!
Is worry never a valid emotion? For example, a missed mortgage payment could mean losing years worth of investment and all the hazards of homelessness. God, of course, cares for our souls, but the trials of life are very real for many of us.