Living a Fruitful Life: What Holds Us Back?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
“A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture.”
Before we leave the Parable of the Sower, I’d like to consider the question of what holds us back from living fruitful lives. In several recent reflections, I worked on what helps us to live productively and meaningfully. As you may recall, this involves hearing God’s Word with open hearts, clinging to the Word, and bearing fruit with patient endurance. These promote fruitful living. But what keeps us from living the life God intends for us?
Jesus’ parable identifies three things that keep us from living fruitfully. These are captured in the different soils and environments into which the sower casts his seed. I’ll address two of these soils today and one tomorrow.
The parable begins: “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it” (8:5). According to Jesus, this scenario represents the fact that some “footpath” people hear God’s Word without receiving it, and it is snatched away by the devil (8:12). Many in our day fail to live fruitful lives because they simply do not receive the truth of God. They reject the Gospel as outdated, narrow-minded, or wishful thinking. Thus, they don’t even allow for the Word to take root in them so as to bear lasting fruit.
Jesus continues, “Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture” (8:6). How I can relate to this! I live in the Hill Country of Texas, where the soil is hard and rocky. If I plant something in my garden, I have to labor for hours (literally) breaking up and enriching the soil, otherwise my plant will fail to grow. So it is, according to Jesus, with people who hear the Gospel and receive it, but it doesn’t penetrate their lives and send down deep roots. After a while, these folk are subject to temptation that draws them away from their faith.
As a pastor, I have seen this sort of “seed on rocky soil” many times. People hear the Word of God as I preach it and get excited. For a while, they appear to be faithful disciples. But their faithfulness disappears and they put their faith on the back burner or even leave it altogether. In my experience, many of these “rocky-soil believers” are people whose lives are governed by their emotions. When they feel excited for God, they are “into” being Christian. But when their emotions wander and wane, so does their commitment.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Can you relate to either of these soils? Are there times when you simply do not receive God’s Word? If so, why? Or have there been times in your life when you have gotten excited about God, only to back away when your excitement waned? Are you vulnerable to temptation that seeks to tear you away from the Lord?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I ask that you show me to what extent I am like either “footpath” or “rocky soil” people. Are there times when I simply refuse to receive your Word? Or are there times when I am enthusiastic for a season, only to back away from you when my excitement weakens?
Today I want to pray for people I know who are “footpath” and “rocky soil” people. As I bring them to mind, I offer them to you by name, asking that you pour out your grace upon them. Give them an openness to your Word. Help them to remain committed to you even when their emotions might lead them elsewhere. Here are the people I’m asking you to bless today...
I pray in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.