Four Soils, Four Hearts: The Parable of the Sower
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears let them hear.” Matthew 13:3-9.
The Parable of the Sower
In The Parable of the Sower, Jesus is teaching us that he is the sower and the seed is the message, the Good News, the gospel, the Word of God.
Four different types of soil are mentioned in the passage. These four types of soils represent how we receive the message.
First, we will look at each of these soils and what we can learn from them.
The Four Soils
When the seed is thrown on the path, it has no chance of taking root. It will either be scorched by the sun, or it will be picked up by the birds.
Jesus is telling us that for those who have a heart like the path, the message will land and soon be snatched up by the enemy.
Because it disappears so quickly, there is not enough time for us to understand what we have heard or what we are supposed to glean from it.
It vanishes before it has a chance to make any impact on our lives at all.
No good farmer or gardener would lay seeds on the path. Seeds need to be planted down deep into the soil where they can take root, find water and nourishment, and grow.
Perhaps it has been awhile since you walked down a dirt path, but for the people in Jesus’s time, they would have understood this image very clearly.
They didn’t have concrete or pavement. They knew quite well how worn the path is from all of the foot traffic. Like the path, our hearts can become worn; worn from the everyday routines, the struggles, the stress, and the cares of this world.
When the seeds of a Word from the Lord are tossed at us, we can continue in our routine and the seed is trampled on. Before that Word can make a difference in our lives and in our hearts, it is plucked up by the enemy and it is gone.
The Stony Ground
When the seed falls on the stony ground, it is not stolen or ignored, it is received.
Have you ever heard a really good word from your pastor? Have your ever been super excited after a bible study or a retreat?
In these times, the Word that you are given from God is so good and it gets planted into your heart.
This time you decide that you are going to make a serious change. This time, you are going to break that addiction. This time you are going to make God a priority in your life, this time you are going to…(insert broken promise here).
Although it begins to sprout, it doesn’t last long.
Because the soil was rocky, the Word doesn’t have a chance to form deep roots; without deep roots, it cannot survive. It will be scorched by the sun, blown over by the first strong wind, or washed away in the storm.
On the surface, your faith looks impressive, but what is happening underneath matters.
You may be able to fool yourself and others for a season, but the heat, the wind, and the rain find us all—you can’t fool God.
You need depth.
You need something solid to keep you grounded when the wind blows and the storms come. Your heart needs to be attached to Jesus or you will wither, shake, and fall.
The Thorny Ground
The seeds that fall on thorny ground are Words from the Lord that are received, and they are deeply rooted.
As the Word is springing forth and blossoming, there is something else growing in your heart. Thistles, weeds, and thorns are the cares of this world and they grow fast, are very strong, and they are deeply rooted.
The roots of the thorns intermingle with the roots of our faith and they begin to choke and strangle, and steal vital nutrients from our hearts.
In my landscaping, there are weeds that pop up through the mulch. I can pull them out and literally the next morning they are back, like I never even removed them.
The reason they come back is because I only pulled what I could see, I didn’t get them at the root. The strength of the weed is found deep down in those places in the unseen—where it is deeply rooted.
It’s the same with the anxiety, fear, and other issues of the world that you are struggling with. You may think you have gotten rid of it, but have you dug it up at the root?
Until you can, it will keep popping up; reminding you, taunting you, strangling what God wants to make beautiful with its ugliness.
We can’t let the cares of this world choke and steal what God has for us—we must pull the thorns out by their roots when we recognize that they are trying to steal the blessing.
The Good Ground
Oh the good ground! How we should always strive for the good ground!
The good ground refers to those hearts that receive the Word, that Word is deeply rooted, and that heart tends and cultivates the seed with maturity and great care.
A good gardener knows how to care for his/her garden. The good gardener knows that the plants in the garden must be planted in rich soil, fertilized and watered with prayer, worship, and reading God’s Word everyday.
It doesn’t mean that the good soil doesn’t have rocks that try and stop the roots from going deep. It means that the good gardener sees the rocks and removes them before they become a problem.
It doesn’t mean that the good soil doesn’t have weeds and thorns. It means that the gardener recognizes them when they pop up and deals with them immediately.
The good gardener knows that things don’t grow overnight. A healthy garden requires time and patience; but eventually the garden will flourish and prosper and yield a bountiful harvest of life and beauty.
New plants when first planted are small. But in time they not only grow, but they multiply and they spread. So too is the Word that is given to the good soil. It will grow and multiply and spread to others around them.
The Word of God
Jesus, as the sower, scatters the seed on all types of ground. Why doesn’t he just throw the seed on the good soil?
If you were a farmer, wouldn’t you be meticulous and put your seed in those places where you knew that it would grow?
I believe it is because Christ came to share the Word of God with everyone, not just those who were saved and sanctified.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31.
Jesus’s mission was to rescue sinners. He is calling ALL to be good ground.
Examine your own heart today. Know that Jesus will continually and freely throw you the seed of his Word.
How will you receive it?
@Between the Gardens Ministries