Yesterday we started looking at principles we can learn from the parable of the sower. If you haven’t read that post, you’ll want to go back and read it before you continue on here.
Today, I want to take a look at the second type of soil:
13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.Luke 8:13
(I should mention, that aside from the first soil, all the seeds do come to life. There is argument about what this means, but when I read it without imposing my theology on it, 3 out of the 4 come to life.)
One initial difference to point out is the reception. The first soil didn’t receive the seed. But this soil received the seed with joy. With joy! This isn’t arm-twisting. That never works. They receive it with joy!
There is a lot we can learn from this soil for our lives as believers. As a pastor, I experience this a lot. You probably do too. And, if we’re being honest you probably frustrate your pastor in this way.
We’ve all done it. We all do it all the time.
We go to church, and while we’re there God teaches us something. Maybe we have an aha moment. Maybe God reminds us of something we’ve heard before – but we see it in a new light. And while we’re sitting there, we’re excited about it. We’re going to remember it this time. We’re going to change this time. We even feel different. This isn’t just intellectual, but we feel this truth in our hearts.
It might even last through lunch and into the afternoon. If we’re lucky, we go to bed thinking about it. If we’re lucky.
But, most of the time, that’s about it. Because Monday comes. Then Tuesday. Which is always followed by hump day. By the time we get to the weekend, whatever it was is long gone. Maybe we remember it when the pastor reviews the sermon. Maybe we briefly feel guilty about it.
Have you ever experienced that? I have. I experience it personally and second-hand as a pastor. I have experienced this from things I’ve taught and forgot. That’s the worst. Grade A hypocrisy at it’s finest, sitting right here typing these words.
What happened? There was no root. So, when the sun came up the next day the plant withered. But practically speaking, what’s happening here?
I think it’s a combination of things. First, let’s look at the condition of the soil. It’s rocky. Roots don’t grow through rocks. If they survive at all, they have to grow around the rocks. And young plants don’t have the root system to be able to do that.
To me, this scenario has everything to do with patience, perseverance and proximity. Yes, they all start with P. I am a pastor after all.
We’re just not patient enough. We want it to grow now. We want the fruit now. So, we plant the seed where it will grow fast instead of where it will grow right. And it does. It springs to life. But, because we were impatient, it dies with the same expediency.
Our impatience leads us to shortchange the preparation. The soil isn’t ready, there are too many rocks in the way. We want it now. Instead of doing the work to be ready, we cut corners and take shortcuts. All of which come at a price. And that price is death. “The seed must not have taken root.” No, it took root. We just weren’t ready for the roots.
Not unlike patience, we tend to also lack perseverance. Where lack of patience leads us to take shortcuts, lack of perseverance leads us to give up too soon. When we don’t see the results we want right away, we give up. “It must not be working.”
What God wants to do in us happens over time, not all at one time. Disciples develop daily, not in a day. It’s the daily growing, the daily dwelling in God’s presence. The kind of fruit that lasts takes time to develop. Plants do grow in rocky soil, but it takes time for their roots to get deep enough that they reach dirt.
The seed fell next to the path. Not in the prepared soil. This is in the rocky soil along the path. There’s some dirt, but mostly rocks. There is enough dirt to cause something to come to life, but there are too many rocks/obstacles to overcome.
I’m not saying this is what the rocks represent, but from my experience one thing that kills truth is when it’s surrounded by the wrong kind of influences. You might have just a teeny tiny little bit of dirt for that seed, but you’re surrounded by a lot of rocks, a lot of hard-hearted, unbelieving people.
You’re still next to the hard path of pride and far away from the soft soil. The conditions aren’t right for you to grow. God might be trying to grow kindness in your heart, but you’re around a lot of cruel and insensitive people. God’s trying to grow joy in your heart, but you’re around a lot of negative people.
We need to be close to like-minded people. We become like who we spend the most time with. If you want to become more like Christ, you’re going to have to be in closer proximity to people who are also becoming more like Christ.
Tomorrow we’re going to take a look at the last type of soil that presents challenges, the thorns.