The first soil is that by the road. This is the soil that the seed falls on but then the devil comes and steals the word before it can take root.
This soil is what we might call the people who reject the word outright. They have a hard heart and therefore the word just stays on the surface. It’s like when I seed my lawn and some of the seed gets on the driveway or sidewalk. It has no chance.
How does someone have such a hard heart. Perhaps this is the person who is really self focused. Or maybe they are self righteous. They have tremendous pride. They don’t need God. It’s the person who says God is a crutch. Or maybe it is a person who is open rebellion to God. They might or might not believe in a God, but they are doing their own thing and they don’t want to submit to anyone or anything.
A person can get to this point a lot of different ways. Sometimes they’ve been hurt badly, maybe their whole life. Perhaps they’ve been hurt by those who they should have been able to trust. Their parents or even religious leaders in their past. They are the victims of those wounds but they have allowed it to harden them. Or maybe they just really believe they’ve got it under control and they want to run their own life.
The second group is those who have the rocky soil. These might be those who respond emotionally. They want the feeling of God’s love. They therefore receive the word. They get an experience of God and it’s a high of sorts. Maybe they realize they fear death and/or hell and in a sense buy some fire insurance by receiving the word. The problem is that the emotion will subside. The fear will fade. They don’t really go deep or act upon their belief. It’s important to remember that belief and faith are not the same. In a sense then these folks perhaps believe in God and even believe the word. But they don’t base their life on it and don’t pursue the avenues to deepen that faith. Therefore when temptation comes they just go with that feeling, emotion or experience.
The third group is perhaps the most sad in some ways. These are the people who receive the word and begin to grow. But over time, and often it’s a long time, they get taken out by the worries of this world. It’s not that they don’t believe. They do. But their lives end up not reflecting it much. Instead their lives reflect the desires of this world be it riches or pleasures that they seek. Jesus warns us in Matthew 6:21 that where our treasure is there our heart will be. Notice that it is not the other way around. These folks, even though they believe, put their treasure in the wrong places and over time that chokes out their fruit. There are so many people in our churches who are in this place – including many in leadership.
Finally there are those who are the good soil. Over time they produce much fruit. What is that fruit? I think it appears in two ways. For one it appears as fruit of the spirit. Think of Galatians 5 where Paul lists joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, and more as fruit of the spirit. The second type of fruit is this: this person has disciples. This is what I think Jesus means when He says that they will increase by a hundred fold. That’s not to say that this person has a hundred disciples. That would be truly impressive. But they produce some disciples who then produce some more and so on. One of the fruits of walking with Jesus is more people walking with Jesus.
Now as I mentioned last time, it can take quite a while to see which soil we are. But this is where we need to be self aware in a spiritual sense. Which soil am I really? This is one of those parables where it’s easy to start thinking of others wondering which soil those around us are. That’s not all bad although it can lead us to self righteousness rather quickly. But I think the key is to take stock constantly of ourselves first.
A little further down in Luke 8 as Jesus is explaining the parable to the disciples He says a really interesting thing. He says nothing will be hidden in the end. He then says this, “Be careful then how you hear. For whoever has more will be given and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” In other words, at least as I interpret it, choose what soil you want to be. How will you “hear” the word? Next time we’ll talk about what we can do to be good soil, and how we might help prepare the soil for others.