Many Soils


Matthew 13:3–8, 18–23 (ESV)

And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” …

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 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.”

I said earlier that distractions can cause us to revert to our regular eyes. The rocky ground and the thorns are opposite examples of distractions. Tribulation or persecution are on one end of the distraction spectrum, cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches on the other. They pretty much cover the whole range.

And beware; the deceitfulness of riches gets specific mention for good reason. Riches are uniquely dangerous. That’s why Jesus taught about the challenges with saving the rich so often (in Matthew 19:23–24, Luke 6:24, and Luke 18:18–25). One good thing about trials is they can be a wake-up call. In a trial you pay attention and think. Trials can trigger you to remember your Christian eyes.

But riches make you spiritually drowsy.

We tend to think that this parable is about different kinds of people. It is, but I’ve been a different person at different times. I was the stone-cold path for many years. Plenty of seed was lost during that time.

So, don’t think that each of us is just one kind of soil and thus will only suffer from one kind of distraction. You can be rich and in a trial at the same time. The enemy wants you to be drowsy while you’re under attack.

2020 has been a year of rocks for many people. While the year will be remembered for a single virus, the tribulations it spawned came from all directions. Some were injured, others impoverished, others made into pariahs. We even saw a bit of how persecution arises on account of the word.

We long for a different year. Pray that this one has tilled the soil. We need a revival.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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