Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Parable of the Good Soil

"Sow with a view to righteousness,
Reap in accordance with kindness;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord
Until He comes to rain righteousness on you."
Hosea 10:12

The Pharisees had pushed Jesus to His limit - attributing the power of God to Satan was over the line. So He changed the way He taught to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy - "You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive, for the heart of this people has become dull..." Parables would now be the method of revealing heaven to the children of God.

It is not a surprise that after dealing with the hard-heartedness of the Pharisees that Jesus' first parable would be about heart conditions. Four soils - one a hard, well worn road, one mixed with rocks, one filled with thorn bushes and the last, rich, dark, good soil. During His ministry, these soils would become evident within those around Him:
  • The road - the hard-hearted Pharisees - the gospel truth bounced off them. Even a hard rain would not have made a difference...Matthew 23
  • The rocky soil - the followers who initially were drawn to Jesus' message, but when the message became too personal, too intense, they had to walk away - "Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, 'This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?' ...As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore..." John 6:60-66
  • The thorny soil - the rich young ruler who let the cares of this world choke out his desire to follow - "But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property." Matthew 19:16-22
  • The good soil - the disciples who one by one laid down their lives for Jesus - "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh..." II Cor. 4:8-11
We all know people who fall in these categories - people who have no ear for the Truth, people who initially respond but quickly go back to their old life, people who have to turn away because the call demands too much and then those who bear fruit constantly. But this parable was not given for us to measure our friendships with - it was given as a self check.

What does the gospel produce in your life?

Does it produce an emotion that is filled with good intentions, but then fades away with the busyness of life?

Does it produce an intellectual stimulation, a response that appreciates the complexity of scripture but has no personal application?

Or does it produce an action? When you hear the word of God, does it change your life? Does it enlarge your understanding of Who He is, producing a humility and sorrow over your own condition?

As you draw closer to the Lord, imitating His actions and responses, treating those around you the way He would treat them, submitting to the God-given authorities in your life, eating His bread and drinking His blood, immersing yourself with the knowledge of all spiritual wisdom and understanding, can you see the fruit of the Spirit in your life as well?

Today, if you are not a fruit producer, if you realize that your soil is hard, rocky or thorny, it is time to break up your fallow ground. Put on your gloves, get on your knees, turn over that soil, yank out the thorns and throw away the rocks. Break up the chunks and mix in the fertilizer.

As mysterious as sanctification is, it is also tremendously practical. No farmer wakes up and finds a full harvest without all the effort of soil preparation, planting, weeding, watering, and probably a lot of prayer. God wants us to grow up, to mature, to look like Him. Your soil condition will determine whether or not that happens. So decided today to get to work - this is the life God wants for you.

It's never too late to become a producer.

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