In the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-15), there are four types of soils (hearts). As I meditate on this story, I have to ask myself what type am I? Jesus explains that the seed is the Word of God that is being shared or spread in the world. At an overview level, there are just two types of hearts pictured in the story: 1) Those who believe and receive eternal life and 2) Those who do not. The soil by the road did not receive the seed. It represents unbelievers. Jesus says they hear the word of God, but Satan takes it away so that they will not believe and be saved. This is the only soil in the story that did not result in life. The other three soils all produced life, i.e., eternal life. I've believed on Jesus for eternal life, so I'm one of these three soils - but which one.
Jesus teaches that the first of these three, the rocky soil, represents believers who fall away in time of temptation because they have no firm root. He clearly indicates in verse 12 that Satan endeavors to prevent people from believing and being saved. Jesus goes on to say that Satan was unsuccessful in preventing the rocky-soil people from believing, and hence from being saved. Rather, these are believers who do not get well grounded in God's word and are not growing in faith. The text warns us to cultivate our faith. We need to read the Bible regularly. We need spiritual nourishment on a daily basis. We need to pray. We need fellowship with other believers. Only in this way will we be prepared for temptation or difficulties that come. Otherwise, we'll turn away from God and be unfaithful.
Jesus teaches that the second of the three soils that produced new life, the thorny soil, represents believers who are faithful and who persevere, BUT are half-hearted in their service. The worries and riches and pleasures of this life preoccupy them so that their fruit does not come to maturity. This person could be someone who attends church regularly, participates on the worship team, helps with nursery, Sunday School or children's church, gives faithfully to the church and even supports missions. HOWEVER, this person thinks more about their job, their favorite sports team, the vacation they're hoping to take this Summer, all the work they need to get done around the house, the new car their neighbor just bought. They really don't have time to study and meditate on God's word. A quick prayer in the morning, maybe before eating and at night constituents their prayer life - one that centers mostly on physical needs not spiritual ones. They feel a little like the hamster on the wheel - constantly running, frazzled and out of breath, but never seeming to get anywhere.
Jesus teaches that only the last of the three soils producing new life is good soil. The good soil represents believers who are wholehearted in their service to the end. These believers produce much fruit. We might characterize a good soil believer as one who is constantly thanking God for His provision, never starts a day without acknowledging God's grace for their very life. Consistently prays for opportunities to share the message of life and sees everything they do and that happens to them as a way to serve the Lord and participate in His work. They're concerned about the spiritual welfare of others. They pray consistently for unbelivers to hear the word and believe on Jesus for eternal life. They pray consistently for believers to grow in the grace and knowledge of God and to walk worthy. They are spiritually alert and live in anticipation of Jesus' imminent return. They are sure that nothing compares to the glories to be revealed. This believer serves the Lord faithfully to the end and will hear "Well done, good and faithful servant."
If I'm totally honest, my life right now looks a little more like the thorny soil than the good soil. Thankfully, I don't have to continue in that way. I can choose to be good soil. I can love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength and with all my mind and my neighbor as myself. I can set my mind on things above.
If you're totally honest, what soil most characterizes your life today?