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Your Soil Matters

Jesus famous parable about the sower and the seed is well known and often taught in churches and Sunday Schools. It's a passage that you, like myself, may have read many times over the years. However, the last time I read it God began to challenge me to consider deeply what kind of soil I am.

“Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.” - ‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:14-15‬

When reading this parable, it's so easy to detach ourselves from it, believing that it's only teaching us about people out there in the world - people we may bring the gospel to and speak to about Jesus. But what if we instead looked at one aspect more personally, and consider if we ourselves could be the thorny soil without even realising it. How so?

What Soil Am I?

The soil of the parable refers to the condition of our hearts - how receptive we are to the seed of the Word. The parable refers to four different types of soil:

  1. Stony - exposed and unprotected from the elements and predators

  2. Rocky - hard, impenetrable and unrooted

  3. Thorny - initially receptive, but choked and entangled, unable to grow

  4. Fertile - rich, refreshed, and ready to nurture

So, how could we find ourselves as thorny soil? Consider this: as enthusiastic new believers we receive the word and run with it! We start to grow and bear fruit - making essential life changes, praying, studying our bibles and speaking to others about Jesus. But after a while, all the other ‘stuff’ in our lives - our jobs, relationships, responsibilities at home, financial concerns, maybe even our activities in church - choke our time, our focus and our resilience. The result could be that nothing actually comes to maturity.

Cultivate your soil

So what can we do to ensure that we keep bearing good fruit?

The quality of our soil is not the result of chance or luck. Rather, we have to take the time to cultivate it. Being truly good soil takes patience and perseverance.

It begins by knowing ourselves - or more precisely, knowing who God says we are. When we truly know who we are in Christ, what God sees in us and what he has called us to be, we can nurture the talents he has given to us personally and present them back to him for his glory. When we allow the things of God to take centre stage in our lives, the other 'stuff' doesn't disappear, it finds it's rightful place in our walk with God.

Stay Rooted

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5

Just as a felled tree can no longer bear fruit, our fruitfulness as believers is dependent on us stay grounded, rooted in the word and connected to the one who sustains us. Jesus describes himself as the True Vine (John 15). We can be encouraged that as long as we stay in relationship with him, he will provide us with the nourishment we need to remain fruitful in God's kingdom.

Guard Your Heart

The Bible also instructs us to take extra care to 'guard our hearts'. Understanding how precious but vulnerable our heart is helps us to take extra care with it. Like a priceless heirloom or a delicate flower we should not be careless in how we handle it. Rather we should treat it with the care and consideration it needs to stay healthy.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart". - Psalm 139:23

It's not always easy to know exactly what things in our lives are damaging our heart. Like the Psalmist in Psalm 139:23-24, we can invite our loving Father to search us - “cross examine and test” (MSG) us to help us identify the things in our lives which may be hurting our hearts without us even realising and help us to free ourselves from their grip.

As we carefully nurture the soil of our hearts, we can be confident that not only will God “lead [us] along the path of everlasting life” but we will continue to bear good fruit along the way.


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