The Heart of the Matter

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My Bible study group, Sisters in Faith, has begun its fall session. We are using The Gospel of Mark by Lisa Harper and are enjoying the crisp, no-nonsense approach of Mark in telling the story of Jesus’ ministry. One of the first parables we landed on is the story of the Sower. How perfectly Jesus crafted a lesson for us in the form of a very simple story.

Mark 4:3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.

So, the farmer is Jesus, and the seed is the good news of the Gospel. It is His Word, which plants the seed and grows our faith.

4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

The path represents a type of heart, one that is too hard and uninterested for the Word to make any difference at all. This heart is too unyielding to even allow the seed to sink in, and the opportunity disappears as the enemy gobbles the seeds of faith, making sure to not leave any behind.

5 Some fell on rocky places. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

These hearts are happy and excited about hearing the Word, but they don’t seriously consider it and allow it to take root. For a brief time these hearts feel they have found a cure-all for all their earthly problems, but at the first sign of trouble, they give it up. Their enthusiasm is impulsive and short-lived.

7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.

The Word takes hold in these hearts. They start off strong, and faith begins to take root, but eventually they are too distracted by the cares of the world. They allow the thorns of money, power, status, etc. to pull them away and choke the plant so it never can grow.

8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

This is the seed that fell on tender hearts that embraced the Word of God, grew in faith, and produced fruit.

This parable causes us to examine the soil of our hearts. Is it hard and impenetrable, rocky, thorny, or tender and receptive? I have found my heart has fallen into a couple of these categories over my lifetime, but I am grateful to a loving Lord who died on the cross to wash us clean of our sins and who calls us ‘as we are’ to receive Him, to grow in His truth, and to bear fruit. He is a Lord of second chances! So if you find yourself in a category that you are not happy with today, and feel you are unworthy or don’t have the strength to reach up to Him, take heart. His hand is reaching down for you.

Believe in Him and let Him grow the faith in you that will bear fruit. We aren’t all called to be pastors or missionaries, but there is beautiful fruit in praying for a friend, caring for an elderly parent, or checking in on a sick neighbor. Be fruitful!

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