We’ve looked at two types of soil that Jesus referred to in the Parable of the Sower, now let’s go to the good soil. Here’s what Jesus said: 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” I hope you are all in that category.
Let’s first take what Jesus said about hearing the word and accepting it. Before we can produce a crop, we accept the word, then, if our soil is good, it takes time to sprout. But how do we first obtain good soil to be able to accept the word?
Here’s what I mean. The soil can’t take all the credit for producing a bumper crop, can it? I’m not a farmer. my wife, Diana, is the farmer in the family. In fact, she has a blog about farming. She has done a lot of planting. She has a vegetable garden, and she is going to have a vegetable stand so that she can plant a huge vegetable garden and sell from the stand and at farmer’s markets in the area.
Now, I’ll bet you, she would know to never plant in any of the first places the farmer scattered his seeds. Today, when we plant, we don’t plant the way they did in Jesus’ time. We plant much more carefully and intentionally. In the story, the farmer wasn’t ignorant about which soil was good and which soil was bad. In that day and time, the farmers had a sack over one shoulder that hung down to the opposite waist, and they would scoop the seeds from the sack with their hands, walk about their fields and scatter it, allowing the seed to fall and land where it may in the process.
But to expect a crop, whether back then or today, the farmer has to pick a field, dig out the rocks, rip out the thorn bushes, till the soil—and I’ll bet Diana won’t just scatter the seed, either. First—and she reminded me of this the other day—she’ll start the seeds indoors to let them sprout there. Then she’ll be very intentional about planting each individual seed in her garden, in so-many rows, so-many spaces apart from each other.
Two summers ago, we had a drought. I remember the whole family taking two hours out of our evenings, each with a watering can in hand and filling them up several times a night from a 250-gallon plastic water tank, watering her garden. She took time and energy making sure the garden was well tilled, the soil was right, the garden was watered and the garden was protected from animals.
You see, we can gladly be willing to receive the word. But before we can produce a bumper crop, we still have to allow God to till our soil, dig out the rocks, and weed out the thorn bushes to let the seed take root. Then, over a period of time, as we allow The Holy Spirit to water it, it begins to grow.
In other words, God’s word works in us in ways that doesn’t sprout up and become mature overnight. Over time, over constant Bible study, going to church, receiving the word of God through a variety of other ways such as books, music and listening to teachers on radio and tv, being renewed and constantly watered by The Spirit—even in a season of drought we can find our spiritual life growing and producing fruit.
What do I mean by fruit? The fruit is our Christian life (Galatians 5:13-26).
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c]you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
We’ve looked at the Fruit of the Spirit, but I want to take a look at one more similar phrase. There are a number of verses all throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament that uses the phrase: fruit of righteousness or harvest of righteousness. Here are a few, very briefly:
- Psalm 72:3 May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness.
- Isaiah 32:7 The fruit of righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
- Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
- James 3:18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
You’ll notice the common theme above: we will bear a harvest of peace. Don’t we all need a little more peace in our lives? When we plant a garden or a fruit tree, one tiny seed can produce an enormous amount. How many apples can one apple seed produce? How many ears of corn can one seed produce? How many tomatoes can one seed produce? An abundance, more than we know what to do with. We have an apple tree out back that produces so many apples, we just don’t know what to do with them all. We just received a refrigerator drawer full of potatoes that were leftover in a farmer’s field. Farmers produce so much that they can’t harvest it all. Now think about what this means spiritually:
In the beginning, I asked, what soil are you? As I close, I want to ask you one more question. You’ll notice Jesus closes this statement by saying we can produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown”
Are you producing a 30 fold crop of righteousness? If you are, are you content in producing a 30 fold crop of righteousness? Maybe you’re producing 60 fold. Are you content with that or would you rather have 100 fold of the fruit of the Spirit or the fruit of righteousness in your life?
There’s only one way to increase the fruit of the Spirit in your lives and to produce a harvest of righteousness. Get closer to God. Though it takes time and effort to do so. I know, I said earlier that we don’t have time. But if you really want to increase your production of righteousness, increase the fruit of the Spirit in your lives, increase the peace that comes with being close to God, then you will have to not find the time, but make time. Spend alone time with Him, read His word, let it sink in. Pray and worship in your own home, in your car, wherever you happen to be, and let his Spirit come over you and change you. Maybe it’s on the way to work, maybe it’s getting up a few minutes earlier, maybe it’s changing the channel to a Christian station or just shutting it off and spend time in prayer.
Prayer: Lord God, we ask that you would let your word sink into us. We accept your word, we make a decision today to be good soil. Today, if never before, we accept your word into our lives. We invite you to come, water our souls, pull out the weeds and the thorns that might be choking us—maybe we haven’t even realized that we have that kind of soil until now. Lord, we make a decision today to accept your word like never before, to make every effort to let it grow in our lives so that we may produce a harvest of righteousness in abundance. In Jesus name, Amen.