In the parable of the sower, Jesus provided four examples about the way people respond to the Kingdom message.
He gave the analogy of a farmer who sowed his seed. Some seed fell along the path (eventually eaten up birds); some fell on rocky places (sprang up quickly, but the plants later withered because of lack of root); some fell among thorns (the plants choked by thorns); while other seed fell on good soil (produced a crop — a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.) (Matthew 13:4-9 (NIV))
Jesus later explained the meaning of the parable:
The seed that fell along the path
“When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.” (Matthew 13:19 (NIV))
The seed that fell on rocky places
“The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” (Matthew 13:20-21 (NIV))
The seed that fell among thorns
“The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22 (NIV))
The seed that fell on good soil
“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:23 (NIV))
A lack of understanding of God’s Word, persecution, life’s anxieties or distractions such as materialism, deprives us from the Kingdom message. It goes without saying therefore, that we are neither useful to ourselves nor others if we choose to be anything other than the good soil that yields meaningful and productive returns. However, how do we keep “our soil” in a good and healthy condition to achieve such returns?
The following are some of my thoughts on how we could be good soil:
1. Keep yourself well-nourished in the Word of God
Let the Word of God “sink” into you, work in you and nourish you. Don’t just aim to gain a theoretical knowledge of the Word of God, but retain it and apply it in your life.
2. Exercise your faith
“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Romans 10:17 (NIV)
Faith fortifies our spiritual life: “…take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)
3. Thrive in a positive environment
A good soil needs suitable environmental conditions for it to be efficient and productive. Similarly, we need a positive environment around us to be able to thrive. This includes having supportive and encouraging people in our lives. It also includes praying, listening to Christian music, and attending a Bible study group, among other things.
At the same time, keep your “internal” environment (i.e., your thought life) good as well:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
4. Enrich yourself daily in God’s Word
Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV):
“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.”
I love that the Psalm describes the person “whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night” as “blessed”.
5. When life gets tough…persevere!
In Luke’s gospel, reference is made to “persevering”:
“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.” (Luke 8:15 (NIV))
Producing a crop is hard work. To be good soil, it therefore requires patience, and the investment of time and energy — but it is worth it! What if this soil is subjected to a sudden change in weather conditions, for instance, a drought? Once again, perseverance is needed.
Life can get tough, but we need to persevere and trust that God will look after us.
So dig into God’s Word and like the good soil, yield much returns!