Thursday, January 19, 2012

Good Soil.

As Volunteer Coordinator at Murray Hill, I have the privilege of writing devotions for the newsletter that we send out every week. I thought it would be a good idea to post them here as well. With that being said, here's the first devo I put together for it, and my first blog of the year. 

Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."
Mark 4:3-8

The parable of the soils has always been one of my favorite passages of Scripture to read and meditate on. Through it we're provided with a brilliant visual of the human heart and how it responds to the Gospel. Jesus himself reveals the metaphor's importance when he says that to understand the rest of the of the parables about the kingdom, the disciples must first comprehend this particular one ( Mark 4:13). He goes into great detail to explain it to them after they fail to understand the meaning behind it. I think we too can benefit from learning what each description represents. If we look closely at those around us, we'll find that these comparisons still remain true and accurate. 

The Wayside Soil: A road near a field's edge, with a hard surface due to constant traffic. "When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes the Word that was sown into their hearts"(vs 15).

The Stony Soil: Too deep for the plow, too shallow to allow a plant to reach water and develop a system of roots. "When they hear the word, they immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves and so endure only for a time. Afterward when tribulation or persecution arise for the Word's sake, immediately they stumble"( vs 16). That phrase "receive it with gladness" equates to an enthusiastic, emotional yet superficial response to the Gospel that does not take into account the cost involved.

The Thorny Soil: Tough, thistle-bearing weeds that use up the available space, light, and water which good plants need. " Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things entering in choke the Word and it becomes unfruitful"( vs 18-19). Cares of this world: temporal issues which blind believers to any serious consideration of God. 

The Good Soil: An average ration of harvested grain to what had been sown was 8 to 1, with 10 to 1 considered exceptional. " But these are the ones who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit; some thirty-fold, some sixty and some a hundred" (vs 20). The yield Jesus refers to is like an unbelievable harvest.  

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have the responsibility of making sure our hearts remain as good soil for the Word of God to take root in. It requires us to open op our minds and spirits so that he can transform our lives. 

We don't maintain good soil or produce fruit simply for our own benefit, either. We're filled to be emptied and given much to give much. We are meant to share what we have with those around us, whether they be a fellow believer or not. As I was researching gardening ( the Google nerd in me couldn't resist) I came across this quote. While it's speaking of literal ground, I believe it perfectly describes our roles as well:

"The first and foremost thing to remember is that good soil is a living, breathing mass. Try to picture your soil as a living being, it needs to breathe, retain moisture, and provide a good food supply to all the microorganisms and other members of this intricate community.

It is vital for us to maintain good spiritual soil, for the benefit of those who may not be able to themselves. We do so by continuing to keep " hydrated through God ( Hebrews 10:22) and making sure our hearts stay cultivated by spending time with him through prayer and His Word. The result of these efforts is being able to bear spiritual fruit. What we sow, we reap (Mark 4:24). When we do this, we ready ourselves so that change can be brought and seeds can be planted in the name of Jesus Christ. If we ourselves aren't healthy, then how can we show the rest of the world what it means to be so? How can we share the fruits of the Spirit with those around us if there are none produced? 

So I would dare to ask the question, how's your heart soil looking lately? Is is stony or filled with thorns? Or is it soft and palpable, ready to reap a great harvest for the kingdom of God?