My wife and I just planted five trees in our front yard—and I’m working to ensure they survive and thrive.

I was not always good at helping things survive,. When I was a kid, I helped my mother clean the flowers beds, so I proceeded to remove all those stupid sticker bushes.

They were rose bushes. (Who knew rose bushes don’t always have roses?)

Sometimes the things we plant thrive—and sometimes they look like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Jesus used this principle to teach about spiritual growth and the ways we respond to the gospel.

  • The hard soil – For some people, the message of Christ never penetrates.
  • The rocky soil – Some people embrace the message, but their lives are shallow and the truth never takes root.
  • The thorny soil – Some people embrace the message, but they let worry, wealth, and worldliness keep the transformative power of the gospel from ever making a difference.
  • The good soil – Some people give their lives fully to the gospel of Christ and the results are incredible. (See Luke 8:1-15.)

There’s a problem with this parable. The problem is not with what Jesus said, but with what we do with it.  This is a spot-on description of people, but we leave it at that. We just assume that’s the way it is.

  • Yep. That’s Murray. He loves his stuff more than he loves Jesus.
  • The thorny soil describes my mother perfectly. She’s too busy worrying to ever trust Jesus with the situation.

We assume the soil can never change, but Jesus told another parable that tells a different story.

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.  So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.  If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down’” (13:6-8).

We know how to help the soil in our own flowers beds.

  • Loosen up packed soil.
  • Pull the weeds.
  • Fertilize.
  • Water.
  • Repeat.

Why not do that that in the lives of those around us?

  • As we share the word, we share our own lives. We let people see how Jesus has transformed us. “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Thess. 2:8).
  • We let the living water of God’s Spirit work through us to moisten and soften the hearts of those around us. “‘Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit” (John 7:38-39).
  • We enrich the soil by our own example of love, grace, commitment, and trust.

The fruit of the soil of our own lives speaks volumes.

For a printable version: click here.

This Screen-Shot-2013-06-24-at-1.41.38-PM (1)post supports the study “Jesus Teaches”  in Bible Studies for Life.