“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.” (Mark 4:3)
Jesus lived his time on earth in an agrarian society. The people he taught knew a great deal about cultivating crops, sowing seeds, and reaping a harvest. When Jesus wanted to teach them about the condition of their hearts, he told them a story about a farmer.
A farmer went out to sow seeds. As he threw the seed onto the ground, some fell on the pathway and was eaten by hungry birds. Some of the seed fell on stony ground, and it immediately sprang up but when the sun was hot, the plant withered away because it had no roots. Some seed fell among thorns that choked the plant and it didn’t produce a crop. Other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop 30, 60, or even 100 times more than the farmer planted. (Mark 4:15-20)
This parable is extra special because Jesus himself explains the meaning to us. The soil represents the hearts of people. The seed is the word of God. The seed falls onto four different types of soil, representing four types of hearts.
- The Pathway Heart has been hardened to the message of God. The word of God can’t enter the hard heart, and Satan comes and steals the message of God’s word before it has an opportunity to grow.
- The Rocky Heart hears the message and receives it with joy but fails to make a commitment to pursuing God. Their faith doesn’t develop deep roots, and when trouble and hardships come, these hearts fall away from God.
- The Thorny Heart accepts the message of God. The word of God begins to grow in their life, but they become distracted. Worry, anxiety, careers, leisure activities, and other cares of life crowds out the message, and they never yield a harvest.
- The Good Heart hears the message and accepts it. This heart continues to grow in God’s word and yields a bountiful and valuable crop.
The Lord cares deeply about the condition of our hearts. He doesn’t care about our good looks, fancy clothes, or great hair. God looks right past our appearance and examines our hearts. (See 1 Samuel 16:7.) He sees the thorny, the rocky, and the hard hearts. He sees the good, the bad and the ugly hearts. In fact, his eyes continually roam throughout the earth looking for a heart fully devoted to him, so he can show himself strong on their behalf (2 Chronicles 16:19).
So, when God looks at our hearts—and be assured, he will—what will he find? Have we given our whole heart to God? Do we embrace his word? Are we too distracted by work, school, vacations, or Netflix to pursue our relationship with God? Let God show you the areas in your heart he longs to heal and strengthen.
When our physical hearts aren’t healthy, we need a cardiologist. When our spiritual hearts aren’t healthy, we need a Savior.
Heavenly Father, I bring you my heart. I offer it to you without reservation. Show me the kind of heart I really have. Reveal to me any areas you want to change. I want to have a heart with good soil, that will receive your word and grow an abundant harvest. Take my heart. I give it to you now. In Jesus’s name, amen.