One of my favorite parables of Jesus is the teaching of the different types of seeds. This parable can be found in Matthew, Mark and Luke. The seeds represent the four ways people receive the Word of God. Which category do you fall into?
Mark 4: 3-8
3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. 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. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 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.”
1st Group: A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
As the Word is being taught, for this group, it goes in one ear and out the other. Even when a person in this group reads the Word for themselves, it’s typically out of obligation or even boredom rather than a thirst for Christ. This group is the least likely to take any action towards living life according to the Word. Therefore, they end up frustrated with their life’s journey because they hear of God’s promises but never experience them. They never allow the Word to penetrate their hearts enough to ACT on what they have heard or read.
2nd Group: Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
This group hosts the “shooting stars.” These people hear the Word and immediately have a rush of excitement for what’s to come. Their faith is on fire and they are going for God at full speed. But just as quickly as they rise, unfortunately, they fall. It is perfectly fine to have zeal for the things of God. In fact, the Bible encourages it (Rom. 12:11). However, the difference between a stable Christian having great hope for the future and those in this group is that these people neglect to strengthen their foundation in Christ. Group 2 may hear a few scriptures and study a couple of parables, but before they can fully digest their new knowledge, they are off trying to save the world. They get so eager to make a difference, and in some cases, make a name for themselves, they don’t give themselves a shot at maturity and longevity. Having heard a little Word can make us strong, but STAYING in the Word KEEPS us strong (Isa. 40:31, Psa. 28:8).
3rd Group: Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.
A single word comes to mind when I think of this group: DISTRACTIONS. Whether it’s a weakness for social media, binge-watching shows, partying and drinking, music, shopping or a host of other diversions, it is easy to spend time doing things other than what you’ve been called to do. Distractions can last anywhere from a few minutes to a lifetime. Our purpose in life is to fulfill the will of God, and there is hardly anything the Devil enjoys more than keeping us distracted and out of God’s plan. The distraction is not always a bad thing in and of itself. In fact, it is usually something that is harmless and even necessary for life like getting overtime at work or having downtime with friends. However, the Devil tries to get us to believe that these things are more important than our true purpose. Therefore, we pursue them fiercely while neglecting our “Christian” responsibilities.
Many people think that praying, reading the word and conversing with God regularly is only for the extreme Holy Rollers, but it is not something most Christians deem as a priority. The reality is that we cannot live successfully without daily interaction with God. We work so hard trying to achieve our “best life” through lesser avenues (a.k.a. distractions), when it is our investment in Christ that is the only thing that will take us where we’re trying to go. Distractions are thorns choking the life and purpose out of us and we end up bearing no grain. Some believe the thorns could also represent bad company. After all, bad company corrupts good character (1 Cor. 15:33). But whether the thorns are distractions or bad company, it yields the same result, which is a fruitless seed.
4th Group: Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.
Obviously, this is the group we should all aspire to be a part of. This is the “ideal” Christian way of life. Have people in this group achieved perfection in their lives? No, but what they do possess is a strong focus on Christ. They don’t always do every, single thing right, but they are not overtaken by the distractions of life, sinful desires or the pressures of society. They stand firm on God’s Word and fearlessly center their lives around Him. These are the people who seem to walk in enormous favor and produce the most fruit.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this parable can be found in 3 of the 4 gospels because it is an important and spot-on illustration of how the Word affects different people. The Word is God (John 1:1); so how we receive HIM, is an indicator of the direction of our lives. Let us strive to be the Christians who stay focused so that we successfully impact the world around us. The fruit we are meant to produce is valuable and our purpose for life.
Kirby N. McKinney