Cultivating the Soil of Your Heart

Text: Luke 8:4-15

“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” – Luke 8:15

Last spring, my 10-year old daughter and I got a variety of seeds and planted them in our yard. Living on such a hilly terrain, it’s kind of tricky getting anything to grow here. But we tried. Well, hardly—we just dug some holes and threw in some seeds.

The results were consistent with those of the past—nothing doing.

With neighbors planting the same kinds of seeds and seeing things sprout all around them, it would be silly for me to blame the seeds; although that would be the easiest thing to do. The truth is, I just didn’t put in the work to cultivate the ground. Though I didn’t do what a savvy gardener would do, I still expected to get the same kind of results. Didn’t happen.

In Luke 8, Jesus teaches about the Parable of the Sower, or perhaps better titled the Parable of the Soils. In this story we see the sower, the seed, and four different soils. What all four had in common was the sower and the seed. What was dissimilar was the condition of the soils.

The seed is likened to the Word of God. That which fell upon the path is like the heart that is hardened by unbelief. It cannot produce anything because the seed never gets under the surface. That which fell upon the rock is where the soil was thin, lying upon a stony shelf (much like the landscape in my yard!). The seed may go in the ground but there’s no real depth. It cannot take root. Jesus likened this to the person who receives God’s Word superficially, but after a time of testing they fall away. Seed that fell among the thorns describes a ground that is fertile, but perhaps too fertile. Thorns grow there as well as grain. The life of the word is choked out “by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.”

Then there was the good soil, both fertile and free of weeds. They are those who, hearing the word, “hold it fast in an honest and good heart.” They bear fruit with patience.

Same sower, same seed. The only divergence in fruitfulness had to do with the condition of the soils.

This narrative about farming has been given many scholarly interpretations and explanations. One of the surest inferences is that the heart of the matter is the heart of the matter. The condition of our heart has direct correlation with what our lives produce—whether the issue has to do with true repentance unto salvation, or spiritual fruitfulness in the life of the believer.

God’s Word is still active and alive today. The word of the Lord endures forever (1 Peter 1:25). We have the same seed that those early disciples had. Our lives can indeed bear the fruits of spiritual maturity and kingdom growth. And though salvation is solely a matter of what God does for us, the Bible makes it clear that we have a responsibility in tending the soil of our hearts:

Though the Holy Spirit is responsible for producing the fruit in our lives, we are responsible for pulling out the weeds. Weeds of pride, selfishness, greed, lust, and envy will surely destroy any fruit that God wants to produce in us. Thorns of anger, resentment, and unforgiveness are sure to choke out the fruits of the Spirit.

To give God a soil that He can work with, we may have some gardening to do. Think about that as you seek to abide in Him this week.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, we are well aware of the cares of our lives. We feel the weight of them every day. We ask you to reveal places where we need to do some weeding in order to cultivate our hearts to be a fertile soil you can produce fruit in. Holy Spirit, help us to identify weeds that may be choking life out of us and teach us how to hold fast the word of life in an honest and good heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. When have you planted something fruitful (literally or figuratively)?
  2. In what ways have you seen this parable at play in today’s society?
  3. Do you remember the time in your life when the gospel first began to take root? Explain.
  4. What role does the Holy Spirit serve in helping us to cultivate a fertile soil for God’s fruitfulness in our lives?
  5. Getting weeds out of our hearts may sometimes entail confession and repentance. Is the Holy Spirit revealing to you anything that needs to be dealt with?

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