Two Sundays ago at SixEight Church, I taught through a very familiar passage. One that we have been through in depth many times as a church, the parable of the sower.
In the past, we’ve always approached it from the major emphasis in the passage which is, Jesus talking about how people will receive him/the gospel. But, like you’ve probably heard while every passage has only one interpretation, that same passage can also have may applications.
So, I asked a different question this time as I studied that text. “Given that the majority of people who are hearing this sermon have already received the gospel, what can we learn from this text for our walk with God?”
That’s when I started to see the parable in an entirely different light.
I’m not saying this is the major thrust of this passage, and yes, we have to be careful when extrapolating meaning from a passage outside the direct intent of the author. But, what I saw this time was useful for all believers. Ways we keep ourselves from growing. Want to know what they are? If you don’t, I’m going to keep writing anyway.
1.) The hard path.
This is how Jesus explains the path:
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”Luke 8:11-12 (NIV)
We get this one. One translation says, the devil snatches it away. I like that word, snatches. Satan comes and takes it right off the surface. Why? Because the path is hard, it’s likely all rock and packed down from walking. The soil can’t receive the seed, so it just sits there waiting for a bird to come take it. If you needed proof that some birds are possessed by the devil, look no farther than this story.
But, don’t miss it. The devil takes the word away from their hearts. The hard path represents their hearts. In other words, their hearts were hard. It was easy for Satan to take the seed away because of the condition of their heart.
There are a few places in scripture that directly correlate pride with the hardening of the heart. For example, in Daniel 5 with Nebuchadnezzar:
20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. 21 He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.Dan. 5:20-21
The proverb: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” is quoted several times throughout the old and new testaments.
Pride isn’t simply something that keeps us from receiving the gospel to begin with. Pride keeps us from receiving all the fruit God wants to plant and grow up in our lives.
God isn’t only interested in our salvation. He’s equally passionate about our transformation. He wants us to be transformed into the likeness of his son. To do that, He will have to bring some new things to life in us. And the starting place for that new life is in our hearts. If we’re going to bear the fruit of the Spirit, it has to be sown into the depths of our heart by God himself.
But, our pride convinces us that we can do it on our own. “I can be loving on my own. I can find my own joy. I don’t need anyone’s help being kind.” We harden our hearts to the only true source of love and joy and kindness by believing we can do it on our own.
And so God drops the seeds of joy, but because our hearts are hard, satan comes and snatches them. Could it be that God has been trying to grow truth in you and me, but we haven’t yet received the seed he wants to grow up in us?
I know from first hand experience(s) that there have been seeds God has been planting in my life for extended periods of time. But, I was too busy trying to prove that I could do it on my own and that I didn’t need God’s help. I could be the good Christian. I could be loving. I could be patient. And it was my own pride that kept me from being able to receive the truth only God could grow in me.
It all starts here. If we want to grow up into Christ, we have to humble ourselves. If it was possible for us to do it, we’d have done it by now. If it was possible for us to be loving, truly loving, on our own – God wouldn’t have needed to send his son. But he did. And the only want to receive the fullness of life He died to bring us is to die and keep on dying to that old life.
And the ruler of that old life is our pride.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the second soil.
Image credit: Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash