Gardening is one of my pleasures in life. This spring I’m busy transplanting rose bushes, adding hydrangeas, and calculating what herbs to grow this season. It’s my version of “crop rotation.” As we dig the holes for our shrubs I’ve learned the importance of digging a very large hole, and since we live at the coast, it’s important to amend our sandy soil with rich, fertile loam. If we don’t take that precaution our plants will never thrive.
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke convey Jesus telling the parable of a farmer who sows his seed. This threefold repetition points out the importance of the message contained in the illustration, so we need to pay attention. Some seed falls along a path where it was trampled on and birds ate it up. Some lands on rocky ground, but when the plants begin to grow they wither due to lack of moisture and shallow soil. Even more seed falls among thorns, which grew up with the plants and choked the good plants out. Finally, the remainder of the seed fell on good soil where “… it came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown” (Luke 8:8, NIV).
Scripture informs us the seed described in Jesus’ parable is God’s Word. If the seed falls along the path, it means we’ve heard God’s Word, but don’t understand it. Satan steals it from our hearts; we do not believe and therefore are not saved. If it falls on rocky ground, we’ve received God’s Word with joy, but we have no root and fall away once difficulties arise due to not being firmly planted and established. If it falls among thorns, we’ve heard God’s Word but the worries, concerns, and pleasures of life choke out His truth and we do not mature in the Lord.
However, if the seed falls among good soil, we’ve heard God’s Word and we keep it and persevere in life. We produce a crop—evident by our good works, compassion for others, and all the fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
How do we ensure God’s Word falls on good soil?
Discipline is the slow-release fertilizer that continually works to fortify our soil.
Discipline is defined as, “training that corrects, molds, or perfects moral character” (Merriam-Webster.com). For the Christian, this training implies an ongoing process and would include practices such as prayer, reading and studying the Bible, attending church, and fellowship with other believers.
But it is through setting aside time with God that we become acquainted with Him and His Word. We cannot neglect to pray for wisdom and discernment prior to Bible study, asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate Scripture. Furthermore, meditating on the Word provides the necessary time to listen and understand. Luke 8:18 (NIV) charges us with, “Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” We’re to understand and become mindful of God’s Word in order not to forfeit it. Read Scripture, know Scripture, memorize Scripture.
Discipline requires time, commitment, and practice. As we fertilize and enhance our soil with discipline, only then will we become fruitful and produce a crop.
Father God, Please help me to grow in the knowledge and understanding of your Word. I know it’s only by disciplining myself to spend time alone with you and in your Word will I be able to safeguard the condition of my soil. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The Parable of the Sower appears in the following three gospel accounts:
Luke 8: 5-18
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