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“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” (Matthew 13:5–7).

IN THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER, JESUS MADE THE POINT THAT THOSE WHO HEAR THE GOSPEL DON’T ALL HAVE THE SAME KIND OF HEART. He used the analogy of four different kinds of soil — just as the seed sown by a farmer doesn’t always fall on productive soil, the gospel doesn’t always fall into receptive hearts.

(1) Along the path (vv.4,19). Some seed is picked up by the birds and never germinates at all. This is the person whose lack of interest in understanding the truth gives it no chance to affect him.

(2) Rocky ground (vv.5,6,20,21). Some seed falls into soil that is shallow, resulting in short-rooted plants that die when the sun gets hot. This is the person who is not a commitment keeper, so when it comes to the gospel, he can’t be counted on to remain steadfast. Hardship causes him to change his mind about the Lord.

(3) Among the thorns (vv.7,22). Some seed sprouts but the plants are choked by thorns. “The cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (v.22).

(4) Good soil (vv.8,23). Other seed, however, falls into fertile ground. It germinates, grows, and produces a crop. In Luke’s account, Jesus said this soil is like those who “hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). This kind of hearer is obviously the one Jesus sought, and He often found such hearers in unlikely places.

But how often do we, when we think of the Parable of the Sower, raise the question of our own receptivity to God’s word? It may be that for all our talk about the need for honesty and courage, we ourselves do not bow before the truth as receptively as we should. To be frank, it is a rare human being who is willing to follow the truth wherever it goes (and sadly, we preachers are often the least willing). Today, as we contemplate obeying the gospel, let’s challenge ourselves. God does not decide what kind of heart we have; we decide. So let’s make the decision a good one.

“A sound head, an honest heart, and an humble spirit are the three best guides through time and to eternity” (Sir Walter Scott).

Gary Henry — +

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