Barren or Fruitful?
September 7, 2017 | by: Jason Shiels | 0 Comments
Posted in: Followers of Faith
The Lord used Parables during his earthly ministry to effectively communicate about how His rule and reign (the Kingdom of God) grows and nurtures the lives of believers and makes us fruitful image-bearers of Christ in the world. Here are a few simple reminders of what he taught the crowds that followed him,
1. v3 "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed"
* Firstly, this story will only connect with those who have 'ears to hear' and are willing to LISTEN. Ask yourself today: Am I a good listener? Do I really have an appetite to listen to God's Word and to be taught? Am I even teachable? You know, in reality, a lot of people are just not teachable. Don't let that be your story! Secondly, the agricultural law of sowing and reaping is applied here. In v14 we learn that Jesus relates the seed to God's Word. He knows that the source of all fruitfulness in the kingdom begins with God, not ourselves. We need HIS Word to be embedded in our lives so that we can grow as fruit-bearing image-bearers where we are both hearers and doers of the Word.
2. v4/v15 "...some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up"
In v 15 we learn that Jesus uses this image of seed falling on the path to illustrate that for some people the seed doesn't find its way into the soil of our lives but is instead taken by Satan. Yes, thats right Satan wants to pilfer the seed before it gets a chance to be rooted into our lives. Satan knows that when the Word of God takes root and is nurtured in us then we become fruitful and so he seeks to steal the Word BEFORE it gets implanted into believers. Ask yourself today whether you are the kind of person who often has the Word of God stolen from you after hearing or reading it? Perhaps fear or cynicism take over? If so, think long and hard today about who the source of that is...yes you guessed it...Satan, the hinderer and thief. It's time to learn to be on alert on such occasions! We need to know our weaknesses and vulnerabilities and to hold up the shield of faith (Ephesians 6) when Satan comes to rob us.
3. v5 "Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil"
In v15-17 this part is explained. Having heard the word and received it with 'joy' this good beginning is hindered by the 'rocky places' of our lives. Jesus explains that this dearth of good soil means there is 'no root' that is able to form when "trouble or persecution comes because of the word" so that "they quickly fall away" (v17). Jesus teaches us here that this (trouble and persecution)) can be expected "BECAUSE OF THE WORD" (v17). This is a fascinating and revealing truth. We learn that those who receive and begin to GROW in fruitfulness can expect some level of trouble or resistance BECAUSE OF THE WORD! Satan hates fruitful and impactful believers. It seems clear here that Jesus is concerned for a type of believer whose life is not dedicated enough to push through past these difficulties. In fact he appears to show us that such tests and trials will be NORMAL and will also expose whether the condition of our lives was ready or just a 'rocky place'. I believe the 'rocky place' might refer to those who got excited for the gospel on THEIR OWN TERMS. Once those expectations are not met by circumstances they fall away in anger and self-pity. Such an outlook fails to recognise that trouble will come and that our lives belong to God who paid the price in full for our freedom so that we can willingly follow Him through ALL circumstances and seasons. Thats a hard but necessary truth to receive.
4. v7 "Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain"
In v18-19 we learn that the thorns represent,
- the worries of this life
- the deceitfulness of wealth
- the desire for other things
I wonder whether any of this list is something that you too regularly struggle with?
If we allow these 'thorn bushes' to take a tight grip upon our hearts and minds then Jesus teaches us that they will "CHOKE THE WORD" making us "UNFRUITFUL". This is a serious warning that we need to give careful attention to the soil of our lives and allow the Father to tend our lives and make us fruitful (read John 15). Worry, stress, the love of money and coveting worldly things will lead us to become unfruitful and barren ("they did not bear grain").
5. v8 "Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times."
In v20 Jesus interprets that seed in good soil that is fruitful as referring to,
- those who HEAR the Word. This is more than positive thinking. This is allow God-generated Word to take root in our lives by the Holy Spirit. As we meditate upon the Scripture the Holy Spirit teaches and convicts us. Are you a hearer?
- those who ACCEPT it. Sometimes we may reject God's truth because we are too logical, or too full of fear, or too negative, or too proud. Whatever the reason, we need to realise that God's Word cannot be chained to our small or negative thinking! So accept truth and have your mind renewed (Romans 12v1-2)
- those who PRODUCE a crop (multiplying 30, 60, 100 fold). When your life is good soil and you hear and accept God's Word then the next step is to be a DOER of the Word (read James ch 2 sometime). God wants us to be fruitful and that means that we are to be PRODUCERS and not just consumers in the kingdom. Faithfulness is vital, but SO IS FRUITFULNESS to God. Ask yourself today, am I someone who puts God's Word into practise? Am I a doer of the Word? Do I implement good teaching or am I just 'stuck' in my own paradigm and inertia?
I pray that as you HEAR today that you will ACCEPT and receive the SEED of GOD'S WORD and PRODUCE A CROP in life that makes you and I fruitful IMAGE-BEARERS that point people to Christ and His Kingdom, for His glory.