When I was in college, at the BCM, the director would throw out a “status update” at the beginning of every message. It was always related to what he was about to preach on. If I were to do that with this, I would say, “Allow the Lord to take root in your life.”
Allow the Lord to take root in your life.
As we have been at Falls Creek this past week, the students have made some incredible steps in their faith. We witnessed them share stories and parts of their lives that they have never shared before. We watched them encourage one another in the areas that they are hurting. We watched them help one another in the areas that they needed help. As nine students recommitted their lives and three students gained the gift of salvation, my question is: Where do we go from here?
Where we go from here matters. George Whitefield, one of the most well-known preachers of all time, would respond when asked how many people were saved at a certain event, “Time will tell.” Our responses and decisions are so often made irrationally, in the moment, out of sheer emotion. Yet, as Whitefield so truly declared, time will tell the truth of these decisions.
A passage of Scripture that has completely wrecked my life since I was a child was that of the Parable of the Sower. This passage is found in Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23; Mark 4:1–9, 13–20; Luke 8:4–8, 11–15.
To truly understand a parable, we must grasp the characters in the context of the culture. In the parable, there are three characters: the sower, seed, and soil.
- Sower = Jesus or anyone carrying the message of salvation
- Seed = Message of salvation (Gospel)
- Soil = Human heart
Within the parable, there are four types of soils, meaning there are four types of heart responses to the message of the gospel: the path, rocky ground, thorns, and good soil.
1) The Path – The Hard Heart
So many hearts look at the gospel and see it as nothing more than words on a page or a speech given by a person. The information of the greatest thing of all time simply remains information. The heart is hard, and cannot be penetrated.
As Satan–the evil one (Matthew 13:19)–comes along and “snatches away what has been sown in his heart,” he will then begin to sow his own seeds. Seeds of doubt, hate, anger, these will begin to take over the life of the hard heart.
2) The Rocky Ground – The Shallow Heart
The shallow heart hears the gospel and responds with joy, but has trouble persisting. When “tribulation or persecution arises . . . immediately he falls away” (Matthew 13:21). Let us not misconstrue what tribulation or persecution is. Tribulations are trials in life. Persecution is being mocked or ridiculed, or even tortured for the very fact that you profess Jesus to be Lord and Savior.
As a student pastor, I watch students face the horrible danger of peer-pressure. Whether it be alcohol, tobacco, cussing, or anything else, they know the danger and sin in each of these as a teenager. Their friends may pick on them for making a decision not to partake in these substances. This is not only a trial, but a form of persecution. To give in, is too easy. To stay strong, produces endurances and steadfast faith (James 1:2–4).
The shallow heart wants what is easy. The shallow heart wants all of God with none of the cost. The sun will rise on your life (Matthew 13:6), will you have root to last, or will you wither as you have no way to reach for the life-giving water?
3) The Thorns – The Distracted Heart
Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “If you profess to be a Christian, yet find full satisfaction in worldly pleasures and pursuits, your profession is false.”
We live in such a fast-paced culture. It is so easy to get thrown off task or distracted. There are many books on how to be more efficient or manage time better, yet when do we find time to read them?
There is this little word that we need to grasp: PRIORITY. To prioritize something is to place is as of utmost importance. Whatever is prioritized gains the majority and forefront of attention. The question is, does God take priority in your life? If He does not, then you are most likely among the thorns, carrying a distracted heart as “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word” (Matthew 13:22).
So many other things can take priority: travel ball, other sports, work, money, success, family, and the list goes on. Time tells the priority of our lives.
4) The Good Soil – The Fruitful Heart
A heart that has been truly changed will naturally evidence that change. The fruit naturally grows when a seed has been placed in the soil that it is made for. The seed of the gospel is made for the human heart, but the question is: Will you receive it?
To us, it seems common sense that an acorn produces an oak tree, not a palm tree. Likewise, a pumpkin seed does not produce a watermelon, but a pumpkin. The seed of the gospel will grow the fruit of the gospel.
We must allow the Lord to take root in our lives, for when the Lord take root in your life, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23) naturally grows. You see, it is the soil that matters. The sower is always sowing the same seed. The seed never changes. The gospel remains the same forever. It is the soil–the human heart–that matters. The soil responds to the seed and it depends on the soil as to whether the seed will take root and grow.
My hearts cry and prayer is that decisions made in Christ are genuine, yet, we must not push aside Whitefield’s powerful answer that time will tell. You are one of these soils. Are your among the path, being devoured by the evil one? Are you among the rocky ground, schorched by the trials and persecutions arising in the world? Are you among the thorns, being choked by the worries and cares, the idols of this world? Or are you the good soil, taking root and growing while producing the fruit of the Spirit?