In Luke 8:4-8 (Matt 13:1-9; Mark 4:1-9) Jesus tells the parable of the four different types of soil. The farmers of the day did not have the precision seeding equipment that we see used today. Instead the common practice was that of hand seeding. As the sower went through the field he would broadcast handfuls of seed in an attempt to get as much seed as possible to take root. This inevitably led to some waste as some of the seed would fall into unproductive areas (the road, rocks, and thorns).
For you and I there are some very important lessons to be learned here and some things we should take some time to reflect upon.
1. What kind of soil am I? Most people think that they are good soil. The truth however is that the Bible and our lives do not support such an assumption. This parable makes it clear that ¾ of the soils are not receptive. Jesus said, “…narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt 7:14). Week in and week out preachers of the gospel stand before half filled auditoriums and preach the gospel to half an audience. Many in attendance are so disengaged and unreceptive we are left to wonder why they are even there. The preacher is sowing the seed of God and most have impermeable hearts. Why? They don’t like the messenger, they don’t like the message, or they simply wish to be somewhere else: doing anything else. It is high time we stop judging the hearts of others (and making excuses) and do some serious reflection upon our own attitudes and conditions.
2. How much of the seed are we spreading? As Christians today it is natural for us to pick and choose individual precise locations to put down a seed. We prejudge the condition of the soil. The problem is we are not soil experts, God is! We focus on the people who look like us, talk like us, and think like us. But our responsibility is to spread as much seed as possible (Acts 8:4) and let God give the increase (1 Cor 3:6-7). We need to focus our lives on the purpose God has given us: To fear Him and keep His commandments (Eccl 12:13), to make disciples and teach them (Matt 28:18-20), and to bring glory and honor to God through our lives of holiness and faithfulness (Matt 5:13-16).
3. Am I actively bringing in the sheaves? Some are planting and others are watering and indeed God does give increase when we do (1 Cor 3:6). But our work is not over, we need to be in the field at the end of the day bringing in the harvest. Jesus pointed toward the fields and said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2). How much harvest has I brought in for the Lord?
In our story it is important for us to remember the fact that although some areas did not produce any fruit it was not the famer’s fault, nor was it a defective seed. The produce depended on the state of the soil upon which the seed had fallen. It is eternally imperative that we do whatever we need to fertilize and cultivate within us a receptive heart lest we hear the same inspired condemnation that Simon heard, “…your heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:21). Simon repented, will you?