Sixtyfold and Hundredfold Fruit
“And 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
In the parable of the sower, the Lord scattered seed into all kinds of soil, each of which represents a possible condition of our hearts. What landed in the heart that is “good soil” always bears fruit, some “a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
Bring Forth Fruit
Thirtyfold fruit is the minimum. Under no circumstance will the good soil bring forth zero fruit. If at any time our heart happens to be good soil, the Lord will sow something into it and it will bring forth at least thirtyfold fruit. This is all God’s grace and mercy, requiring nothing of our effort. If we bring forth no fruit, it is because we are not good soil. The Lord is always sowing and there is no shortage of His grace. Thirtyfold fruit happens without our even trying. It happens to both the spiritually mature and immature. If we have no hardness, rocks, or thorns in our heart, represented in this parable by the other kinds of soil, fruit is guaranteed. Whenever the Lord sows into good soil, it bears at least thirtyfold fruit entirely by His grace.
Those who bear sixtyfold and hundredfold are not only blessed with a larger quantity of fruit, but also with a higher quality of fruit. These are not just chair-warming Christians begetting other chair-warming Christians. Because they are serious before the Lord, their fruit will become very serious before the Lord. Because they are so consecrated, the fruit they bear will also become very consecrated.
We have only one life to give to the Lord. We cannot afford to waste it. Only a healthy, proper struggle for our growth and increase will bring in sixtyfold. While most Christians settle for thirtyfold, we can fight to grow to the top of what God has given us and bring in sixtyfold. We must be very sober about our life so that we can tell the Lord, “I am living the life that You have planned, prepared, and given to me. I am not wasting any of it.”
Sixtyfold does not mean we produce sixty fruits. It means we produce sixty times who we are. If we love the Lord so much, we should affect at least sixty others to love the Lord just as we do. If we are so consecrated that we sell out everything for Him, we should cause at least sixty others to do the same. That’s sixtyfold fruit. We produce sixty times whatever the Lord has planted into us. Such a sixtyfold becomes a blessing to the body of Christ.
What the Lord really desires is those who will bear a hundredfold fruit. This is to take what He has sown into us and develop it into a ministry. This is more than to bear fruit by His grace (thirtyfold) or by our growth in life (sixtyfold). Hundredfold is to be captured by Christ to become His bondslave. It is to willingly lose what normal people enjoy because we choose to be so one with Christ. It is to struggle that our life would matter to the Lord and satisfy Him.
We could choose to be satisfied to live a comfortable life and produce thirtyfold. This is the choice of most Christians because there is absolutely no price to pay. Or we could fulfill our God-given potential by developing what we have to become sixtyfold. This is the choice of a smaller number of believers. Or we can fight to be one with the Lord and pay any price to bear fruit a hundredfold. This is the choice of those very few who develop what they have into a ministry that becomes a gift to the body of Christ.
No More Drugged
There are so many thirtyfolds in the church life. It almost seems that there is a sleep-inducing drug making us feel that if we love the Lord too much, we are not normal. In principle, everyone should love the Lord to the uttermost. But for some reason, when this drug is present, the whole church life loses what it should have. The feeling comes in that we don’t need to fight that hard—we have our own life to live.
How good it is to break out of that drugged feeling and become different. To be different is not to become special, but to have a greater appetite, desire, and pursuing than others. They read the Bible ten times, we read it a hundred times. They labor with others two days a week, we labor six days. For every twenty hours they spend preaching the gospel, we spend forty. This kind of labor will give us the capacity to bear a hundredfold. It is to go beyond what God has given us. This is to fulfill our ministry (Col. 4:17).
The disciples asked the Lord why He spoke to the people in parables. He answered by quoting the prophet Isaiah:
“You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.”
– Matthew 13:14–15
This answer does not just apply to the people of that day, but to us today.
The Lord told them that these people keep on hearing but don’t understand. We go to conference after conference with almost no effect. He said they keep on seeing but don’t perceive. We keep reading the Bible but nothing with us changes. He said their heart had become dull. Our hearts are all preoccupied, unable to receive much from the Lord.
Once we feel we have something, it is very hard to receive something more. We become dull and cannot respond to other things. God speaks to us, but we are fully occupied. God tries to stir us up, but we already have a life and do not want it to be disturbed. We have made our decisions and our life is set. We may feel we are very open to the Lord, but actually almost no one is. How true are Isaiah’s words, “The heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes.”
Too often our thought is that we will give ourselves to follow and serve the Lord after we retire. Until then we have too many responsibilities, too many plans, and too many dreams. We reason that if we spend our best years making a lot of money, we can be self-supporting when we begin to serve in our retirement. Such thinking makes us dull. If the Lord is stirring us up to serve Him, this kind of logic blocks us from hearing, understanding and following His call. Of course we value the service of the older ones, but it will be nearly impossible with such a late start for them to arrive at sixtyfold fruit, much less a hundredfold. What a loss to the Lord, to the church, and to themselves.
Young people are often told, “You are the future of the church!” For most of them this is a lie, because their heart will not allow it. If they are to be the future, it is because of their heart. This is a struggle. Every young person must determine what they are aiming for and what they want to accomplish with their life. If they make these decisions without the Lord, as most do, they can become good church members, but never the church’s future. If they determine their own goals, they may eventually force the Lord to allow it and even to bless it, but they become the master, not the Lord. How can we tell others to trust the Lord when we have worked everything out for ourselves?
As we have seen, the Lord quoted Isaiah:
“Otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.”
The word “otherwise” implies a lot. The Lord seems to be saying that He was fearful that such dull people would see, hear, understand, and return, because then He would have to work with them.
Suppose a student, with no leading from the Lord, applies to get into a top university to pursue a top career. This is not what the Lord wants at all, but if he is admitted, the student gives glory to God. In such a case, the student was actually admitted because of his grades, not because of God. If he had really good grades, he didn’t even need to pray. It should not have been “Glory to God,” but “Glory to me and my good grades.” This is to do something ourselves, yet say the Lord did it. The Lord does not want such credit. He allowed it but was not behind it and did not approve it. This happens with most decisions we make. We are dull of hearing so we pretend the Lord is directing our lives.
If we are such people, the Lord may say, “Otherwise.” He will still bless us as His people, but He will not bring us to the top. If we insist on being our own master, He will not give us the honorable living that was His desire. He will only let us live according to our own desire. This is pitiful by comparison.
As a young Christian, my constant prayer was, “Lord, don’t give me up.” If I had known the Lord’s word in Matthew 13, I would have added, “Never let the word ‘otherwise’ come to me.” “Otherwise” means the Lord is letting us go our own way. He will let us live in peace, but we will have missed His best. We can say that He is with us, but we will not actually experience His presence. We will never know what it is to fight for the hundredfold or even the sixtyfold. If we then begin to see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and understand with our heart, and return, He is in trouble. This is why the word “otherwise” indicates He’s is fearful of this.
He is fearful because such people are so wishy-washy. They are like a slippery bar of soap that constantly slides out of His hands. They give themselves to Him and then are gone, off doing their own thing again. Slippery Christians never allow the Lord to get a solid grip on them. They never mean business. They are always sliding away. The Lord can do very little with such people. This is very sober.
“Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.’”
– Matthew 13: 11–12
What the Lord said in verse 12 seems illogical. If we do not have, what we have will be taken away. If this is so, did we really not have? If we don’t have, then there’s nothing for Him to take away. If we do have, then He won’t take away. This does not seem logical.
Some have paid the price to go through a variety of conferences and trainings. They learned a lot of truth and learned how to apply that truth for their growth in life and to be a life supply to the church. But once the conferences and trainings were over, they felt they had graduated, and settled into a common Christian life. They became what many would call “good” brothers and sisters. But if the Lord were to ask them what they have, they could only answer that years ago they went to some conferences and graduated from some trainings. Because they had given up on what they once had, the Lord took what they had away.
We may once have had something of spiritual value, but the Lord wants to know what we have today. If we can only point to what we used to have, then we have nothing today. What we had was taken away. I once had a chance meeting with some brothers at an airport. They testified how they had been so much helped by me in the past to love and follow the Lord, and I knew that they had been used by the Lord at that time. But as we fellowshipped, I realized that they were now just employees of a religious institution. That caused the things of value to just about disappear.
It is striking how so many of the young people today are zealous and how many of the older ones, including many elders, are not. I knew most of these older ones when they were young, and they were zealous too. What happened over the years? All the young ones should be worried about this. What will happen to them after twenty or thirty years? Will they still have what they have today? If they labor to gain Christ and serve others, they will have even more. If they don’t, what they have will be taken away. If they make the church their playground to satisfy their religious duty, the church will slowly die. History proves this is so.
If the Lord comes to us and we continually reject Him, He will eventually stop coming. It is like a young man trying to date a girl who always tells him “No!” He asks her to go for a drive, and she says “No!” He offers her flowers, “No!” Dinner? “No!” A walk? “No!” Eventually the boy will give up. If the girl changes her mind and wants him to come back, it is too late. By now he is fearful of what life would be like if he married such a girl. Everything with her is “No!” What the girl had is gone.
If we don’t have, what we have is taken away. To avoid this, we should always be advancing. If not, we are playing games and deceiving ourselves. We could pass through so many things and end up with nothing. I have seen this happen many times over the last sixty years. No one could blame the Lord. It was because they only maintained their Christian life but never put out the effort to advance. They felt they had something, and knew they should have something, but when the need was there, they had no supply. Old manna doesn’t work. If we aren’t moving forward, we will shrink backward.
It’s not what we’ve been through. It’s not our old experience. It’s not our past training or consecration. The Lord’s word is so sober. Whosoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away. In other words, how about the Christ we have today? How about the Christ of this moment? If at this moment we don’t have, what we once had will be taken away. We need the present Lord.
The Lord said, “Whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance.” The Greek word “abundance” applies to both quantity and quality. If we are struggling to advance in the Lord so that we always have something in the present, we will be given even more. It will be God’s highest and the best.
We can have mistakes and failures. We can be weak and experience disappointments. After all these things we can still come to the Lord. He is happy to receive us. In fact, it is through such experiences that we gain so much more Christ. But we should never be slippery and make the Lord fearful. That is the meaning of “otherwise.” We should always have a desire for God’s best, for the present Christ. We want the Lord to give us an abundance of Himself. This is to arrive at the sixtyfold and even the hundredfold.
”Otherwise” is such a sober word. We should all pray, “Lord, never say ‘otherwise’ to me. I can be defeated. I can have problems. I might even become rebellious. But Lord, please never say ‘otherwise’. Always openly speak to me. Always have your place with me.” Then we will have His blessing.