“…When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
— Matthew 13:18-23
A big source of frustration for me since we moved into our home almost three years ago is some very persistent and stubborn dead spots or patches in our yard where the grass is not as thick as in other areas. We’ve tried fertilization, reseeding, aeration, core aeration. You name it, we’ve done it and not much has changed. The problem, it appears, is a combination of the trees sucking up the nutrients as well as providing too much shade and not enough sun. Not the least of which of these problems is areas in our yard where the soil (Georgia clay) is just hardened and not suitable for growth.
I share this because it indirectly relates to one of my favorite parables in the Bible — that of the sower and the seed, wherein Jesus explains in the above verses how both Christ followers and non-Christ followers suffer from soil problems in our hearts.
Both non-believers who deny the Lordship of Jesus and Christians who sit in the church aisles every Sunday with hardened hearts, fall into the first category of having the seed sown on rocky ground. The desires of the world – selfishness, material pursuits, greed, lust, coveting, anger, malice, bitterness — you name it — can keep our hearts very hardened. Our over obsession with pursuits such as our politics, our sporting interests and our music and entertainment choices can keep our hearts hardened.
Non-believers who accept the word, thereby becoming believers, can quickly fall away when American forms or persecution like criticism or belittling comes their way. Specific to Christians, most of us can bounce from category to category depending on our heart condition that particular week or day.
However, I believe most of us as Christians consistently fall into the third category. We hear the word, but we’ve allowed the worries and stresses of everyday life, the survival game we all play due to paying bills, raising families, holding down jobs and the chaos of the world all around us, to choke out the Word. This is a real challenge that we must confront directly and I think the best way to counter it is by memorizing and meditating on God’s Word. I’m not immune and have fallen victim more times than I can count to the thorns of life choking out God’s Spirit from working from within me.
But holding God’s Word in my heart and verses such as Matthew 6:33, Colossians 3:2, Exodus 14:14, Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 5:3-5, Romans 8:28, and my signature verses in James 1:2-4, help me to bear a fruitful harvest in my heart from the fourth category of soil mentioned above.
Now, if only I can find a remedy for my yard.
Bill is on staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a Deacon at Eagles Landing FBC in McDonough, GA. He lives in Locust Grove with his wife Amy and their three children. You can follow Bill on Facebook, Twitter @billrenje and learn more about him at his website www.achosenbullet.com.