One day there was a man who went out for a walk in his field. He carried with him a bag of seeds and as he walked he began to toss them out along his path and all around it letting the seeds fall where they may. Some of the seeds were eaten by birds or stepped on by others who decided to go out to the fields that day. But as time passed the remaining seeds began to grow. However, not all of the ground was the same and some would fare far better than their seed companions. Those that the man had tossed onto the rocky ground around the path could not reach any real source of water with their roots. Others found themselves competing with thorns and thistles, a losing battle for such a small seed. But others had landed on good soil. They had what they needed and they did what seeds are meant to do: they grew and grew and grew. And once they had grown they multiplied producing more seeds and more plants. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
As the disciples sat listening to Jesus tell his story, they felt a little confused about what he was really trying to say. Jesus, being the kind and patient teacher that he is, kindly explained to them that the soil in this story is a representation of us humans and the seeds are the word of God. Then he goes on to say,
''No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.'' Luke 8:16-18 ESV
”Take care then how you hear…”
Let’s assume that at some point, upon hearing the word, your heart was fertile soil. It took root deep down in your heart and began to grow to maturation and eventually produced fruit. But the process doesn’t stop there. What farmer only plants seeds once in his farming career? We must continually allow the word of God to be planted in our hearts and each time we decide on what kind of soil the seeds will fall. We cannot take for granted that we will be fertile soil every time. This is why we must take care then how we hear.
If I hear the word but do not water it through prayer, meditation, and praise then it will soon be dried up or taken away. If I hear it with joy but fail to act in obedience when life starts to turn my focus away, the thing I learned will whither away choked out by all the other things that grab my attention away. So then it is only by being a hearer who then takes what I have learned to nurture it that I can be a fruit-bearing believer.
…for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
And should I choose not to be the right kind of hearer I will not simply continue to bear the same fruit. Jesus is clear that by not cultivating the soil of my heart I risk losing what little I may think I already have. In other words, a lack of obedience to apply God’s word to my own heart will lead to an inability to bear fruit and minister in the lives of others. I may be able to survive on the little fruit I had for a while, convincing others that my heart is still open to his word. But…
…nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not come to light.”
The moment I stop being the right kind of hearer the seeds stop growing in my heart. And before long the condition of my heart will be impossible to hide.
If I find myself in a place where I am no longer bearing fruit and where my sinful nature is showing more and more then the surest way to get to the root of the problem it to take a look at my time in the Word and with Jesus. First, am I spending time with him? Am I digging into his word and allowing seeds of truth to be planted in my heart? If so, have I prepared my heart to be fertile soil? Perhaps I need to spend some extra time meditating on the scripture I read or even praying it back to the Lord. In doing so, I’m readying the soil so that his word will not just land on my heart and dry up, but put in deep, healthy roots. And then, am I fertilizing those plants with fresh obedience to his word each and every day?
As James says, we must ”be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”. We can convince ourselves time and time again that we are the good soil. But if we are only hearing and not obeying, Jesus tells us that this cannot be so.
So today or tomorrow as you get into the word and spend time with God, ask him to show you what his word is calling you to do. How is he asking you to obey him and become a plant that bears much fruit?