“Then Jesus used stories to teach them many things. He said: A farmer went out to plant his seed. While he was planting, some seed fell by the road [along the path], and the birds came and ate it all up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much dirt. That seed sprang up very fast, because the ground was not deep. But when the sun rose, the plants were scorched and withered, because they did not have deep roots. Some other seed fell among thorny weeds, which grew and choked the good plants. Some other seed fell on good ground where it grew and produced a crop. Some plants made a hundred times more, some made sixty times more, and some made thirty times more. Let those with ears use them and listen.” – (Matthew 13:3-9)
Early this morning I picked up a book I’ve had for awhile titled ‘Rooted In Good Soil: Cultivating and Sustaining Authentic Discipleship (A Farmer Looks at the Parable of the Sower)‘ by author and Vineyard pastor Tri Robinson. As I skimmed the pages I sensed the LORD highlighting for me these words:
“Life has a way of compacting and hardening the soil of our hearts. Life’s hurts combined with the gradual accumulation of guilt and shame as a result of sin constantly weigh us down, causing our hearts to become like the soil in my garden after a long and harsh winter.
There are two kinds of sin: the sin we do and the sin others do to us. Either way it is all sin and it is all damaging. The sin we do can produce deep feelings of guilt and shame. The sin others do to us can produce feelings of bitterness, anger, and even rage. Over the course of time, all of this can produce a hardened heart; and like soil, it eventually becomes so crusted over, it is impossible for the seeds of truth to penetrate. Like the soil, until the heart is cultivated and broken, GOD’s truth cannot take root. Therefore brokenness is the first essential event that must occur before the process of spiritual maturity can begin.
No one is exempt from the hurts and pains of life. All of us have had things done to us that have caused us to close up and shut others out. All of us have done things to others that we shouldn’t have done, and because of our behavior, we shut GOD out. The Bible calls it our fallen or sinful nature. In Romans 3:23 Paul said, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of GOD’s glorious standard”. Paul went on to say that through the work of Jesus, GOD made provision for us to have our past washed clean so that we can have a fresh start and a new beginning. This is the reason the Gospel is called the ‘Good News’ – because it really is good news for a hurting world. The good news is that there is a way to break up the fallow ground of our hearts and enter into a life with GOD that will allow us to produce a great harvest.” (p.33-34)
Sin is not a popular concept these days but the fact that we explain it away is a good indication that it is a powerful force in our lives. Maybe a more simple definition of our sinfulness would be: pride – which leads to a lack of love for GOD and others. Pride is the worshiping of self.
Another way we avoid looking at the sin and hardness of our own hearts is pointing out the sins of others. This is probably the most prevailing sin in our religious communities and our own lives – attempting to atone for our own sins by always pointing out the sins of others. How easy it is to ignore the condition of our own hearts. We become hypocrites as we let the soil of our hearts go uncultivated and become fallow – hardening and unable to take in GOD’s living Word that is the perpetual seed in every new season of our lives.
It’s not enough to just read Scripture, attend worship services, and call ourselves disciples of Jesus. It is not enough to live a moral, religious life and call ourselves Christians. If we are bearing little to no fruit of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) maybe it’s time for a little reconditioning of the heart. It all begins, as the author reminds us, with brokenness before our Creator who is the Great Farmer to the soil of our hearts.
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