4While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, He told this parable: 5“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”. (Psalm 8:4-8, NIV)
Jesus uses a parable about farming to encourage us to live fruitful lives. The key, according to Jesus, is to receive His word openly, letting it take root in our hearts. Bearing fruit isn’t easy, though. It requires resilience, as we hold on tight to God’s word, learning it, internalizing it, and living it each day.
The Parable of the Sower is one of the more familiar parables of Jesus. It also shows up in Matthew and Mark. It is sometimes called the Parable of the Soils because Jesus actually provides more details about the soils than about the sower. Plus, when the disciples of Jesus asked about the meaning of the parable, He talked mainly about the soils, saying nothing about the sower (Luke 8:11-15).
According to Jesus, the seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11). The soils are the people who hear the word and their responses. Some don’t receive it at all. Others receive it with joy but soon it dies out. With still others the word is choked out “by life’s worries, riches and pleasures” (Luke 8:14). But then there are some who are “the good soil.” They “retain” (hold fast to) the word “in a noble and good heart, and by persevering produce a crop.” (Luke 8:15).
I expect that, like me, you find yourself wanting to be good soil. You want to be soil in which God’s truth takes root and grows, producing a bountiful harvest. So how can you be that kind of soil?
According to Jesus, we are good soil if we “hold fast” to the word of God. We embrace it, seeking to know it, internalize it, and practice it. When tempted to give up on God’s truth, we grab on tight, even if it’s unpopular to do so.
A good-soil person holds the word with “an honest and good heart.” The heart, in the language of Jesus, isn’t just the place of feelings. It’s the whole inner life, our capacity for thinking, choosing, and feeling. One of the key qualities of an honest and good heart is openness. Unlike the hard soil in the parable, we need to let the word of God penetrate our hearts. We need to let it challenge us, instruct us, admonish us, encourage us, guide us, and comfort us.
Finally, Jesus says that the good-soil people will “bear fruit with patient endurance” (Luke 8:15). We know that an abundant harvest was produced from relatively few seeds (Luke 8:8). Yet, Jesus suggests, this outcome doesn’t come easily. Those who bear fruit must do so with “patient endurance.” We will bear fruit if we hang in there when things are hard, if we keep on seeking and trusting God, if we persist in hearing and doing the word of God.
Are you able to hold fast to the word of God? Do you receive it with an honest and good heart? Are you resilient in fruit-bearing even in the face of tough challenges? Ask the Lord to help you be good soil for His word.
Lord, by your grace, may I be resilient in learning, embracing, and doing Your word. May my life bear abundant fruit for You.