The Seed and Soil For Growth

Some time ago “Reader’s Digest” told the story about a company who mailed out some special advertising business post cards with a mustard seed glued to it with the following caption that went something like this:

“If you have faith as small as this mustard seed in our (product), you are guaranteed to get excellent results and be totally satisfied.” — Signed, The Management

A few months later one recipient of this promotional piece wrote back to the company and said, “You will be very interested to know that I planted the mustard seed you sent on your advertising card and it has grown into a very healthy bush producing wonderful tomatoes!”

This story reminds us that it’s important to sow the right seed or else we may reap something we didn’t expect. In that same vein it’s also important to sow the seed in the right soil.

As we continue our 2023 theme “Sowing Seeds For Spiritual Growth,” let’s consider the seed and the soil based on Jesus’ parable in Luke 8:4-15. Note there are three aspects to this parable. The Seed. The Sower. And the Soil.

The Sower. In the parable it’s probably Jesus. He went every where “preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God.” Today, it would apply to any of us who teach the Word.

The Seed. Jesus stated empathically that “the seed is the Word of God.” Only the pure seed will produce followers of Christ. Peter wrote that we have “been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (I Pet. 1:23-24).

The Soil. In the parable there are four types of soil on which the seed fell.

The Wayside. This is the soil that is packed down. It’s hard. Impenetrable. The seed just lays on top of the ground and the birds come and eat it.

♦The Stony Ground. This soil is filled with rocks. While there was enough soil for a plant to begin growing, it perished for lack of moisture, as it was unable to take root.

♦The Thorny Ground. This seed fell among thorns. It produced a plant, but as the thorns sprang up, it choked the plant and died.

♦The Good Ground. This is the rich soil in which the seed germinates, grows and produces fruit.

Jesus explained the spiritual application of this parable. It described the differences between those who heard the Word. It spoke to the condition of the heart. It expalined why some won’t obey. Why some fall away sooner or later. And why others thrive and prosper spiritually.

While we often look at this parable in terms of sowing the seed today and apply it to evangelism, there is an application to our spiritual growth and development as Christians.

#1 You Can’t Grow if You Have a Hard Heart.

It’s possible after obeying the gospel to allow our hearts to harden. This was the problem of a second generation of Jewish Christians to whom the Hebrew writer offered this indictment.

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12).

Two other times, the writer warns these Christians against the danger of hardening their hearts to the Word, like their forefathers did in the wilderness.

It’s important for us to “guard the heart” (Prov. 4:23). Keep it tender. Allow its soil to be receptive to the Word. You can’t grow spiritually if your heart is hardened to hearing “the whole counsel of God.”

# 2 You Can’t Grow if you have a Shallow Heart

Like the seed on the thin, rocky soil, the Word will not take root if we have rocks in our lives that need to be removed. The Bible exhorts us to be “rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:17). And to be “rooted and built up (in Christ) and established in the faith” (Col. 2:6-7).

I’ve seen farmers take a field filled with rocks and painstakingly remove them so they could till the soil. What rocks are in your life preventing the Word from taking root and growing? Are there rocks of indifference? Apathy? Laziness? Procrastination? Self-satisfaction? Pride? To grow, you must remove those rocks.

#3 You Can’t Grow if you have a Crowded Heart

Have you allowed the carnal weeds to crowd out the seed? In explanation, Jesus offers three types of weeds that may crowd out the Word.

♦The weeds of material cares. While some concerns are prudent and justified, too often we take this to an extreme. We worry about things beyond our control. We become overly concerned about the affairs of this life to the neglect of spiritual matters. For instance, some Christians care too much about our earthly citizenship and its politics and not enough about the Heavenly kingdom and its mission and message.

♦The weeds of riches. Riches per se are not sinful. Some of God’s greats were wealthy. Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Job. However, when money becomes the master instead of the servant, then we’ve allowed it to crowd out the Word. Paul warns Timothy about “the love of money.” “Greediness.” “Foolish and harmful desires” that money may incite. And a failure to “be content.” (1Tim. 6:6-10).

♦The weeds of worldly pleasure. “The lusts of the flesh” are a constant temptation. None of us are immune. A failure to abstain from those desires which war against the soul, will not only impede growth, but will endanger the destiny of the soul. Note, however, not all pleasures are carnal and sinful. Some are wholesome, relaxing and godly. Yet, an inordinate emphasis, even on legitimate pleasures like hunting, fishing or golf, may crowd out the Word.

#4 You Can Only Grow If You Have a Good and Honest (Noble) Heart.

The soil of the heart must be cultivated to receive the Word. From this rich soil the faithful follower of Christ will bear fruit (Jn. 15:1-8). Its evidence is in the state of your heart and the fruit you produce.

Are you growing? Getting stronger spiritually? Maturing as a disciple of Christ? If not, why not?

Has your heart become hardened? Shallow? Crowded?

Decide today to enrich the soil of your heart, allow the seed of the Word to penetrate it, take root and grow.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

1 Comment

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One response to “The Seed and Soil For Growth

  1. Pingback: Weekly Recap: February 6-10 | ThePreachersWord

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