As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.Matthew 13:23 ESV
Jesus spoke in parables during His public ministry. One of the parables He shared with His crowds was about the Sower and the Seed. We might be tempted to bypass the parable because we know it by heart – but let us have an open mind when we reread the passage. Let us examine this parable in greater detail and draw insights from it.
First, there was the Sower and the Seed. Who is the Sower? It is God who sows the seed on the farm or the garden. What does God scatter? Seeds. In Jesus’ explanation, the seeds refer to hearing God’s word. God then sprinkles His word in different situations – some did not grow at all, some grew for a while but did not bear fruit, and some grew and bore fruit. In His story, different conditions affected whether the seed will grow and bear fruit or not.
Enabling God’s word to take root, grow, and bear good fruit
In Jesus’ story, He mentioned four scenarios the seed faced during the sowing. First, the enemy snatches God’s word in us and has no chance for the word even to grow and later bear fruit. Second, the word of God falls into a rocky ground; it sprouts for a while but is very shallowly rooted, cannot receive enough sustenance, and therefore dies and does not bear fruit. Third, God’s word was sown into a thorny ground – it germinated for a while, but the thorns prevented the plant from growing correctly and did not bear fruit. Lastly, the seed was planted into good soil – not stolen by the enemy and not planted on shallow or thorny grounds.
What can we learn from this parable? The environment where we let the seed, the hearing of God’s word, is critical for our lives to bear fruit. Do we allow the misunderstanding of God’s word to fester and create doubts and lies in our lives? Do we enable trials and hardships to overcome our trust in God? Do we allow this world’s worries, riches, and cares to overwhelm our faith in our Lord?
To truly bear fruit in our lives, we need to make sure that the word of God in us is watered, nourished, fertilised, weeded, and given proper sunshine so that it would grow well. The first question we can ask ourselves is: how much do we hear the word of God? How often do we read the Bible? How much influence does God’s word have in our lives? Are we getting enough seeds in our lives in the first place? Second, how aware are we of the environment in that God’s seed is growing in us? Do we allow doubts, misunderstandings, worries, riches, trials, challenges, or anything else to move our focus on loving God and letting His word bear fruit in our lives?
The environment where the seed is planted is vital at all stages of its growth. We must always be vigilant, especially when we face crisis points in our lives – we ought to let the word of God in us be strong and stand against doubts and worries. Let us not allow anything to stunt the growth of God’s word in us daily.
We can also notice that different seeds bear different quantities of fruit. In Jesus’ words, some yielded a hundredfold, some by sixty, some by thirty. What determines our yield, our fruitfulness? It concerns the quality of the environment where we allow the seed to grow. We all start with one seed; some will allow confusion, doubt, lies, or other things to thrive. Some will let trials suffocate God’s word in us. Some will let riches or the pursuit of it take precedence over God’s word. All these things we do daily will affect how fruitful we will be with our lives.
What kind of fruit does God expect?
What kind of fruit is God expecting from us? A life conformed in obedience to God and a character modelled after Jesus Christ will bear all fruits we can ever think of. We influence the people around us to follow Jesus. Our lives will become a statement of radical difference from the world’s ways and patterns. And sharing the gospel with others will bring souls into heaven.
Let us nurture, cultivate, fertilise, water and provide sunshine to God’s word in us. May the word of God in us not be like a Bonsai, fully grown but stunted and unable to bear fruit. May we not allow bugs, diseases, thorns, and rocky grounds to affect the growth of the word of God in us. May we all live the most fruitful lives we can – fruits that really matter in the end.
Top image credit: The Sower, painted by Jean-Francois Millet, 1865, in the Walters Art Museum. Image source at Commons-Wikimedia, in the Public Domain.
Tom Caballes is a National Coordinator of the Lamb of God, a community of the Sword of the Spirit with seven branches located throughout New Zealand. Tom and his wife Mhel and their two daughters [with his son-in-law and grand-daughter] live in Wellington, New Zealand.