Matthew 13 begins with the parable of the sower. In this parable, the Lord compared the condition of His followers to four kinds of soil into which He as the Sower would sow needed things for their growth in life. What He sows is according to Himself and His eternal purpose.
In His wisdom, the Sower sows the things that are the best and most profitable for us, but our condition often frustrates our growth. These conditions are represented by the roadside where the soil is packed hard by the traffic on the road, the rocky places where the soil is shallow because of the rocks, the thorny places where many things grow other than what the Lord sows, and the good soil where the Lord’s sowing is multiplied.
In the previous issue we covered the first two kinds of soil, that is, the way and the rocky soil. In this issue we will go on the cover the last two, namely, the soil that produces thorns and the good soil.
The Thorny Soil
“Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out”
– Matthew 13:7
The third kind of soil was thorny. Don’t think this was bad soil. If anything, this soil was too good. Everything wanted to grow there because it was so easy to take root.
The Lord described the person this soil represents in this way:
“The one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
– Matthew 13:22
The more potential we have and the more promising we seem, the more everything wants to take advantage of us. The world with all its opportunities and promises of wealth comes calling to recruit us. The people of the world say, “Come to our company! Come to our office! Come to our university! Come spend your life on us!” But once we grow old and our potential is used up, these things don’t come after us as before. Finally we see them as they are—thorns using up the soil where the Lord’s crop should be growing.
Thorns are a result of God’s curse of the ground when Adam disobeyed God in the garden (Gen. 3:17–18). The ground did not sin, but it was cursed. The thorns did not sin, but they are the result of the curse. The things that the world baits us with are not necessarily sinful, but they are of the curse. Movies are not sinful. Neither is reading novels. But both can catch us and start to grow in us, replacing what God has sown.
When thorns start to grow, we may not even know what has happened because they grow so fast. They seem so legal and proper, so understandable and excusable. But according to God, as thorns, they are the result of His curse. We are surrounded by cursed things and opportunities because He has cursed the whole world and everything growing in it.
It is certainly legal for a young family to want a good house, and as the family grows they may need a bigger one. But it is easy for this desire for a bigger house to take root and grow in us. It then goes beyond need and enters into the realm of status in the world. To get that bigger house, we have to work longer hours to make more money. We have to sign a mortgage and go further into debt. It has now become a curse to us as it robs us of our church life and time with the saints. The Lord wants to do something with us, but it is too late. The thorns have grown too thick for us to get freed.
The same thing can happen with a car, clothes, or any necessity of this life. It is unbelievable how many thorns there are. Their only function is to catch us, squeeze the life out of us, and rob the Lord of our absolute love for Him.
The question is not whether something is sinful or not, but rather, does that thing squeeze us? If anything squeezes our growth in life, we know there’s something wrong, and we must drop it. We can give all the good reasons why something is legal and proper, and why we must have it, but as long as it frustrates our proper growth in life, we have to reject it. We must refuse to grow with thorns. We must choose to only grow what the Lord has sown within us.
The Good Soil
“And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
– Matthew 13:8
Concerning the kind of person this soil represents, the Lord said,
“The one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
– Matthew 13:23
The fourth soil is the good soil. If the Lord hadn’t said there could be such soil for His sowing, we would hardly believe it was possible. We will get into this good soil in a future message, but we should never think that we have graduated from the first three kinds of soil and are now the fourth. We actually have all four kinds of soil within us. Often we are the roadside, full of busy traffic as we make all our plans without the Lord, and often the rocky soil, letting the things of the Lord start to grow, only to see them wither and die due to our stubborn and selfish decisions. At other times we are the thorny ground, letting the cursed world consume us and steal away our heart for the Lord. We are all these soils at various times. They choke our growth and make us unable to follow the Lord completely.
Praise the Lord that there is such a thing as the good soil. This is our goal. Whenever we find we are experiencing the other soils, we can come to the One who’s is able to save us and change our heart. We can pray, “Oh Lord! Save us from ourselves! We want to hear Your word and understand. Make us the good soil!”