Consequences are not always bad. Good deeds bring good ones; evil deeds yield evil ones.
When Jesus explained the parable of the sower, the seeds, and the soil, His emphasis shifted from the sower and the seeds to the soil itself—the person who hears the Word.
- The sower had done his job.
- The seed is good seed, precious seed, the very Word of God.
- The soil is the variable that determines the effectiveness of the sower and the seed.
- The consequences, good and bad, come from the interaction of the seeds with the soil.
Four Kinds of Soil
It isn’t very flattering but in this parable, people are represented by different kinds of soil.
- Wayside soil—the displaced person who is on the road to nowhere, listening to no one, allowing other competing viewpoints to steal away the truth. This is a hard-headed, hard-hearted person who hears the Word of God but does not take it in.
- Shallow soil—the person who hears the Word and takes it in without hesitation but does nothing to prepare his life for something new. No plow is set to this shallow soil to turn it over or break up the stones to find the good soil beneath. Strong roots do not develop and the plant dies in the sun.
- Thorny soil—the busy person who adds the Word to his library but does not read it. This is a life full of potential but also full of distractions. Priorities are mixed and a productive routine is never developed. Soon other concerns claim the time and energy of the plant and the plant is choked—not choked to death, just choked to the point of impotence.
- Good soil—the careful, thoughtful person who receives the Word and puts it in a place of supreme authority. Here is the manual for living and for productivity. Instructions are found and followed. Care and thought go into the life of the plant. In season there is a bountiful harvest.
The kind of soil that we choose to be determines the consequences of our actions.
- The Wayside One The person who dwells by the side of the road and never on it will never arrive at a destination of worth. He will, in the words of Paul, “be tossed about by every wind…” This is not God’s plan for any of us. We have a calling, a destiny, a destination in the will of God.
- The Shallow Soul The person without depth of character but this is not a life sentence. He can choose to deepen his heart, to expand his mind, and to reach for the great things God has for him. It will call for study and discipline but he is not alone in this process—the Holy Spirit functions as a plow to till the soil of the heart. The prophet’s invitation is to us—“break up the fallow ground; it is time to seek the Lord!”
- The Distracted Individual The person who is just too busy to follow the call of God will most like only produce excuses. It doesn’t have to be this way! He can strip away the hindering things. Life is more manageable when pared down to the will of God.
- The Fruitful Servant The person who hears the Word and obeys it will be a blessing to all and will be pleasing to the Lord. The Kingdom of God will profit from such a one.
The consequences, good and bad, come from the interaction of the seeds with the soil.
Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord , Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
Lord Jesus, You are the Lord of the Harvest! My job is two-fold: 1) to scatter the precious seed and 2) to pray that You will send forth laborers into the harvest. May those who find themselves by the side of the road, remove to the road and follow You. May those whose lives are shallow, allow the plow of the Holy Spirit to break up their fallow ground. May those who have received Your Word but not prioritized it reorganize around Your call and mission. The harvest is great; send forth laborers, Lord Jesus! Amen and amen.
The Songs of the Reaper
Words and Music: William A. Spencer
1. The seed I have scattered in springtime with weeping,
And watered with tears and with dews from on high;
Another may shout when the harvester’s reaping,
Shall gather my grain in the sweet bye and bye
Over and over, yes, deeper and deeper
My heart is pierced through with life’s sorrowing cry,
But the tears of the sower and songs of the reaper
Shall mingle together in joy bye and bye.
Bye and bye, by eand bey, Bye and bye, bye and bye,
Yes, the tears of the sower and songs of the reaper
Shall mingle together in joy bye and bye.
2. Another may reap what in springtime I’ve planted,
Another rejoice in the fruit of my pain,
Not knowing my tears when in summer I fainted
While toiling sad-hearted in the sunshine and rain.
3. The thorns will have choked and the summers suns blasted
The most of the seed which in springtime I’ve sown;
But the Lord who has watched while my weary toil lasted
Will give me a harvest for what I have done.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved