FRUIT OR FRUITLESS?
"As they went from town to town, a lot of people joined in and travelled along. He addressed them, using this story: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. Some of it fell on the road; it was trampled down and the birds ate it. Other seed fell in the gravel; it sprouted but withered because it didn't have good roots. Other seed fell in the weeds; the weeds grew with it and strangled it. Other seed fell in rich earth and produced a bumper crop. 'Are you listening to this? Really listening?'" Luke 8:4-8 (The Message).
How many sermons have been preached on this story!
As the crowds joined Jesus, He was aware that all of them represented one or even more of the soil types of which His story spoke. No doubt the scribes and Pharisees were among those whose hearts were so hard that the seed of God's Word would remain exposed on the surface until the birds came and snatched it away.
What makes hearts so hard that the seed will never take root? Disobedience creates calluses in people's hearts. God speaks and, because the time is not convenient, or because His instruction seems foolish or cuts across our own wishes or intentions, we do nothing. The next time His speaks, we hear but do nothing again. Eventually we no longer hear Him because our hearts have become deaf to His voice.
Sin dulls our sensitivity to His word. Self-will and the notion that we know better or that we are convinced we are right, like the Pharisees were, shuts us off from the influence of God’s Word until it no longer penetrates our minds and we dismiss it with contempt.
Gravelly soil represents the shallow person who is so caught up with the glitz and glamour of the world and the all the interests and entertainment that it can offer that the delicate roots of the Word of God find no place to anchor themselves. There's hardness under the surface that resists the truth and the small plant of faith eventually withers and dies.
Ground that is full of weeds is like the person who has a divided heart. Jesus identified the weeds as "the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of riches." These are interesting concepts. To worry implies that you are split -- you are here but your mind is there. You may be in church but your mind is somewhere else, churning over a situation or problem you cannot solve. You are unable to give your attention fully to God's Word at that moment.
The deceitfulness of riches is equally distracting and you are equally split in your mind. Instead of being content with what you have now, you are continually living in the future -- scheming and planning how you can get more money then. "Weeds" rob you of contentment and distract you from living in the present and in the place where you are here and now. Consequently God's Word is gradually pushed out of your mind as you grapple with your worries and your ambitions.
The person who recognises the value of what God says and applies it diligently to his life, not allowing sin, pride or self-will to prevent its entry into his heart or the glamour, greed or worries of the present life to choke its growth, will receive the Word. apply it and show the fruit of its influence in the way he lives.
There is a little of each type of soil in each of our lives, depending on our attitude to the issues the Word addresses. We may resist what God has to say about any sin we are entertaining; we may be shallow or superficial in our attitude towards something God requires of us that touches our pride or our purses; we may have worries or ambitions that we are not prepared to relinquish to Him, and in those areas we will shut out the Word and become unfruitful.
The fruitfulness of the seed depends entirely on quality of the soil that receives it.
When God looks for fruit in your life, what will He find?
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