“I am such a failure!” I often times feel that way after trying to share the Gospel with someone or trying to encourage a brother or sister in Christ. “They didn’t seem to get it and so I must have failed at communicating.” This is often my thinking. The Lord has been teaching me that how people respond is not 100% based on what I say or how I say it, but based on their heart.
“Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matt 13:3-9)
Jesus goes on to explain this parable to His disciples and what He focuses on is the heart of the hearer. I’ve always been confused by this parable, because I didn’t understand the issues of the heart. I especially would get hung up on the ones who have a “good” heart. Jesus, what do you mean that someone has a good heart? I thought our hearts are desperately wicked and lead us away from you (Jeremiah 17:9) and there is no one good (Rom 3:12). How can you say some have good hearts and that enables them to bear good fruit?
As I began to ask this question to the Lord, He began to ask me, “What is the difference between each of the soils?” The soil along the road is extremely hard, trampled upon and the seed is unable to break through the ground. The rocky places do not have much soil and so the roots of the plant are unable to get deep enough to find water. The soil filled with thorns will choke out the seed and prevent it from growing. But the good soil has been broken up with a plow and rocks, thorns, and thistles have been removed. The conditions are right for receiving the seed and yielding a crop.
Now translate that to our hearts and what does good soil look like? Good soil, (aka a good heart) looks like someone who is broken. Someone who realizes that everything God says is true and anything contrary is a lie. Someone who is not afraid to be made fun of because they are a Christian and chooses to obey God’s word (even if they look ridiculous to others). Someone who does not get caught up in having things or finding contentment from money, but finds joy and contentment in knowing God. Someone who realizes that this world has left them empty time and time again and all that they are looking for is found in Christ. This is someone who believes what God says and bears fruit.
Then the Lord pointed out to me, that in the story Jesus is the one spreading the seed. He is the one teaching others about our need for the Lord. Many did not respond with a good heart, but instead they rejected what He said or over time they fell away. I began to realize that if Jesus, God Himself, could have people respond that way to Him than how people respond to me is not fully based on me, but on their heart. How freeing this was to realize. Yes, I need to speak as one speaking the very words of God, need to speak the truth in love, and need to rely completely on the Spirit for what to say. But even if I do all those things, that doesn’t mean a sinner is going to fall on their knees in repentance every single time and every believer I talk to is going to serve the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. I do need to continue to sow the seed and pray that the Lord would be preparing hearts so receive it.