About a year ago my husband accepted a new Lead Pastor position. We moved our family about an hour from where we had been living into a rental home. As summer approached I was longing for beautiful landscaping and flowers. After talking my husband into this wonderful idea (ahem ), we picked out some plants and returned home for the planting to begin.
Plants lined up everywhere ready for a new home, my hubby began to dig. After a lot of grunting and groaning we realized that the soil was very different from our previous home. It was rocky, dense, and full of clay. Being the wonderful husband that he is, he still went on digging and planting. The problem was that when he had finished, our plants were literally flat out on the ground, looking wilted, defeated, and near death. The leaves weren’t just wilted, they were completely laid out flat! Off to the store my hubby went!
He returned with soil and dug up every plant, pouring soil in their rocky holes and re-planting each one. By this time it was getting dark out. After much frustration and sweat I think he had had enough, and so had the plants. We watered the plants and came inside. The next morning we woke up to a glorious sight! Oh my word those plants had literally came back to life! They were vibrant and beautiful as if they had never laid out flat in a pitiful pile. I couldn’t believe it! The soil that we used made all the difference in the world.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus uses soil to illustrate the condition of the human heart. Many times Jesus would use parables to teach His followers how to live for God. In Matthew 13:1-8 He tells the parable of the sower.
Matthew 13:3-8 Jesus says, “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
The different types of soil are a beautiful illustration of the state of our hearts. In this passage there are 4 different types of soil, which can be related to 4 different types of hearts:
1. The “Hard Heart” – In verse 4 it says that the seed fell along the path and the birds came and devoured it. The soil was so dry it didn’t hold the seed, but instead left it vulnerable. The soil was completely unmoved just as the hard heart can be cold and unresponsive.
2. The “Shallow Heart” – In verse 5 it says the seed fell on rocky ground where there was not much soil. The seed immediately sprang up, but as soon as the sun came out it was scorched and died. This soil didn’t produce anything and just the same the shallow heart doesn’t have any fruit to show.
3. The “Crowded Heart” – In verse 7 it says the seed fell among the thorns. As the thorns grew up they choked out the plants. This is such a great reminder for us that the pursuit of “other things” can interfere with our pursuit of God. Sometimes the things you commit to, even the seemingly “good” things can leave you with a crowded heart.
4. The “Fruitful Heart” – In verse 8 it says the seed fell on good soil and it produced grain. This soil produced a harvest! The fruitful heart is alive and God’s word is doing something in it and through it.
Jesus uses this simple parable to teach us that obedience begins in the heart. Obedience doesn’t begin with our actions, but our affections. When we truly love God, we will live for God. God is looking for a heart that is humble, teachable, believing, and tender towards Him. He knows that when this is our heart, He truly has us.
I challenge you my friends today to take a long look at your own heart. What is the state of your heart? As we seek to reach the hearts of our children and raise them to follow God and change the world, we must constantly be taking an internal look at our own heart.
(References from Warren Wiersbe and Pat Schwenk)