Tilling the Soil of the Heart
"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
Matthew 13:22-23 says,
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 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.
The concept of good and bad soil is something Jesus’s listeners would have understood well. Planting in good or bad soil meant having food or going hungry. It meant having money or not. For their agrarian culture it was a matter of survival.
While Jesus’s parable might not have as direct a correlation to us, its principle remains just as relevant. We all have spiritual soil. Through our mindsets and postures of the heart we can receive the seed of God’s word which will in turn yield life-giving fruit. Or, we can allow the soil of our hearts to make us unreceptive to the powerful work God in our lives.
It’s incredibly important for us to understand that God never forces his desires on us. He waits patiently—beckoning us to open our hearts fully to him. He gently shows us his love, whispers his perfect plans to us, and waits for us to trust and surrender. With the grace of God, we can till the soil of our hearts, living receptively and surrendered to his loving kindness and perfect will. If we will cultivate a willing heart, God will mold and shape us into children free from the cares of the world and empowered to live Christ-like, fruitful lives.
Take time today to assess your own life. What parts of your heart are hard to God? Where do you feel unreceptive to his goodness? Where do you need to say yes to God today in a fresh, transformative way? God is calling you to a lifestyle of trust and surrender that he might lead you to green pastures and still waters. There is abundant life for you in store this week as you cultivate good soil. May the Holy Spirit help you look honestly at the posture of your heart today as you enter into a time of guided prayer.
1. Take some time to receive God’s presence. Open your heart to feel the peace and rest that comes from encountering him.
“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14
2. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you ways in which you aren’t fully open to God. How are you not fully saying yes to God? In what ways are you living your life apart from the leadership and presence of God? Where don’t you fully trust him? Where aren’t you bearing the fruit of the Spirit?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
3. Confess those things to God. Receive his love and forgiveness as you repent and turn away from hardness of heart. Spend time resting in God’s presence and experiencing the new found peace that comes from having your heart more surrendered and receptive to God.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Tilling our hearts into good soil is an important daily exercise. The more often you do it, the more you’ll realize the need to have good soil. Having our hearts fully open to God takes the mundane and makes it wonderful. It takes sunsets, conversations, prayers, work, and church and fills them with life, value, beauty, and joy. Take what you’ve learned today and continue to put it into practice. Choose to live a life positioned to receive all that God has in store for you. May your day be marked by the fruit of the Spirit.
Extended Reading: Matthew 13