Jesus was a master storyteller. His stories, or parables, were intriguing, sometimes shocking, but always very personal in their application. They speak directly to our lives. One story that describes each of us in some way is the Parable of the Sower found in Luke 8:4-15. Pay close attention to this parable because you are there.
While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seeds fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still, other seeds fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way, they are choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering, produce a crop.
Since we know Jesus and want to follow Him, I will focus on two kinds of soil that apply to us. The first is the seed sown among the thorns. These are people who hear, but life’s worries, riches, and pleasures choke them as they go on their way, so they do not mature.
All of us fall into this trap at times in our lives. Perhaps we live most of our life here, or maybe it is a particular season/s of our life. We want Jesus, and we want to grow. Still, we are distracted, majorly distracted by the worries and anxieties of life, by the pursuit of wealth and stuff, and by our desire to experience the good life (our pleasures). Here is the individual who is so busy in their work, busy with life, and so consumed by activities that God gets marginalized, and space for God becomes scarce. Too often, we run on fumes in our busyness and what gets lost is space for God in our lives.
There is a cost to this kind of lifestyle. Jesus says that the result is that people living in this zone don’t mature. Instead, life’s worries, riches, and pleasures choke their spiritual growth.
In all honesty, one of my greatest fears in life is that I don’t mature as a Christ-follower. I fear not getting to a place of spiritual maturity and continued growth throughout my life. One of the most strategic things we can do is be honest about how much space we are giving God in our lives, how much growth is actually occurring, and how intentional we are about becoming more like Jesus. Whatever picture we paint for the outside world, we know in our heart of hearts how serious we are about maturing in Him.
Jesus contrasts the seed that falls among the thorns with the seed that falls on good soil. “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
Here is where we want to be. Notice how Jesus describes those who are good soil. They have noble and good hearts. Why are they described this way? Because they hear the word, they retain it and apply it, and the result is a crop of righteousness in their lives.
So what is the critical difference between those whose spiritual growth is choked out and those who are good soil? Three simple things. First, those with good soil are not distracted, and they have space and time for God. The word of God intentionally nourishes their lives. They learn that word, retain that word, seek to understand it, and then apply it in their lives. None of this happens without intentional effort. It is an arrangement of our lives so that God is not lost and we have space for Him. We make space for Him. We intentionally find time for Him and His word, and we apply that word equally deliberately to our lives. That is good soil, and it bears a generous crop of spiritual maturity and righteousness in our lives.
Which of these two kinds of soil describes you today? If you are not entirely in the good soil description, do you want to be? If the answer is yes, what changes do you need to make to your life so that God is more central, so you have more space for Him, and what can you do to better understand and apply His word to your life?
Father, I pray that you would help me live with Good soil that hears your word, understands your counsel, and applies it to my life. I want to experience the harvest of righteousness. Help me experience more of you, Jesus, and fewer distractions. Amen.
The question for today: How do I need to rearrange my life to give more space and time for God and His Word so that I live in good soil rather than among the thorns?