If you've been a believer any length of time you've heard the parable of the sower. It's the story that Jesus used to illustrate how God's word enters a person's life and what affect it will have once there. In Mark 4 verses 1:20 Jesus told his disciples, "Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
This parable should lead every Christian to ask, what is the quality of my soil? In the first example, the fowls devoured the Word before it even had a chance to hit the ground. This characterizes those who hear about the good news of God and reject it immediately. They don't want to part of Christianity or what some call organized religion. God's word or promptings fall on deaf ears. These people remain unbelievers. The eyes of their understanding have been darkened and they are blinded to the truth.
In the next example, the seeds fall on hard or stony ground. This characterizes those who hear God's word, believe what it says, and receive it into their hearts. They may even pray the sinner's prayer and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. But in a short period of time, when they are criticized by their family members and friends for talking about Jesus or becoming a Christian, they put their Christianity on a shelf and continue down their former path.
The third example is where I believe we find the majority of Christians today. These are your devout and church-going Christians. They heard God's word, accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, and became a member of a church where they attend faithfully every Sunday. They love God and are dedicated to living a Christian life. They tithe or give offerings regularly. They're also involved in many aspects of the church. But despite of all this, they're struggling in their family life. They are overcome with depression, discontentment, negative thinking, stress, and sometimes hopelessness. They may feel overburdened, suffer from martial conflict, are haunted by their past, feel unfulfilled in their life; struggle with hidden vices; and work hard to attain more and more. In the parable, these are seeds that actually fell on penetrable soil, took root, and produced a crop, but the thorns (daily cares, past life, materialism, and lust), choked out and suffocated God's word and they have become fruitless believers, whose lives have been stripped of the abundance and rewards they have in Christ Jesus.
But why do so many believers end up here? Why isn't the word of God or the power of God making a significant difference in their lives? I believe the answer lies in their soil. For example, if I were to take a beautiful healthy plant and place it in the middle of a weed infected garden, what is eventually going to happen to that plant? It's going to be overgrown with weeds and eventually die. It doesn't matter if I water it everyday, fertilize it, and make sure it gets plenty of sunshine. That plant was already doomed because of the condition of the soil in which it was planted.
That's the same thing that is happening to us believers. We're being watered with God's word, we're receiving the light of the Son of God, and we're receiving continual nourishment of the Bible. Yet when it comes to living a truly abundant Christian life, many believers are frustrated and fall short. The thorns continue to take over.
Our soil is symbolic for our minds. Before we became Christians, we held various beliefs based upon our environment, conditioning, family situation, circumstances, and a host of other variables. Many believers come from single-parent, dysfunctional or abusive families, endured gang violence, or suffered advert racism. We may have seen our parents struggle financially or witnessed infidelity. The list is endless. The fallacy is that when we come to Christ all these memories, hurts, pains, and conditioning, (the thorns) are just going to erased from our consciousness. It isn't so. They are a part of our soil. And although they be dormant for awhile; it only takes the right trigger to get them to resurface again.
I believe Jesus made it really clear in Matthew 9:17, when he said to his disciplines, you can't put new wine into old wine bottles because it will ruin the new wine and destroy the old bottles. The two just don't mix. When we try to plant God's truth into our old degenerated mind without first examining and eliminated our faulty mindsets, beliefs and patterns, it just like trying to put new wine into an old bottle or a beautiful plant in a weed infested garden.
God tells us to renew our minds and to cast down every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ. Unfortunately, many of the thoughts we think go unchecked; they're unconscious to us. They have become a part of who we are. We have thought them so long that they have become our identity and we just live them out as though they were the truth. They control us and we don't even realize it.
So how do we become more conscious of our thoughts? By becoming still and listening. By spending regular time in solitude and seclusion so that the thorns buried deep within us can escape.
By paying attention to what we're doing and asking ourselves, is this behavior working for me anymore, am I really getting what I want out of life, or am I just surviving.
By recognizing and acknowledging the hurts and injustices we have faced, then enduring their pain and offering them up to Jesus for inner healing.
By stopping all that were "doing," those things we've been told we need to do to succeed, and begin to "abide" in Christ and to linger in his presence where we are changed from within.
By becoming a seeker of God, "seek ye first the kingdom of God" and all we need will be added (the opposite of acquiring) unto us.
By meditating on God, contemplating and reflecting on each word in every passage we read and measuring ourselves and our behaviors by it and then petitioning God to mold us into the man or woman he created us to be.
By becoming fully present and living each moment fully aware and focusing on today and what really matters to us and taking no thought for tomorrow. The future is in God's hands. Only then can we begin to eradicate and clear the soil of our hearts and embrace God's truth and live it to the fullest.
In the last example, the soil fell upon good ground, and it yielded fruit that sprung up and created a 30, 60, and 100 fold return in God. When we tend our soil and eliminate its weeds, thorns, and other debris, we will begin to live the Christian life God created for us all. "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10.
Rhonda Jones is the creator of over 25 Christian meditation and affirmation Cds and the author of the Christian makeover program, Help Me God Change My Life and A Date with God. Learn more at http://www.thechristianmeditator.com and http://www.holyandhealthyliving.com.
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