When I was in high school, I was involved in countless clubs and activities outside of class. One of my favorite experiences was performing in the Spring musicals every year. Since I became a follower of Christ as a teenager, I was elated to discover that production that was chosen for our Senior year was Godspell by Stephen Schwartz. This musical is structured as a series of parables, primarily based on the Gospel of Matthew. One of my favorite scenes in that show was the parable of the sower.
The parable of the sower is found in Luke 8:4-15, Matthew 13:1-8, and Mark 4:1-9. In this parable, it explains to us that the Word of God must be sown into the heart of a person. In other words, the heart is the ground or soil.
Four types of soil Jesus discusses:
- The Wayside/Foot path
- The Rock/Stony places
- Good Ground/Soil
Obviously, the best soil for the Word of God is good ground.
What is good ground?
In the natural, this would be soil that has been tilled and ready to receive the seed that the farmer is spreading. The farmer makes sure that it is cultivated and kept moist.
The worst thing that the farmer could allow to happen is for the ground to become hardened or full of weeds.
Jesus explains good ground as “those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15, NKJV).
There is a key word in that scripture that sticks out to me: “keep.”
This word is also found in another part of that Bible that gives instruction about of our heart.
Proverbs 4:23 tells us to:
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life”NKJV
When I reflect on what the word “keep” means in this verse, I often think of the opposite word “unkept.”
If something is unkept, it is usually a mess and not cared for- an upkept room, an unkept flower patch, or unkept nails.
So if we are to keep our heart with all diligence, we are supposed to continually care for it, protect it, and make sure it is pure and ready to receive God’s Word at all times.
What comes out of your mouth is the first indicator of what condition your heart is in (See Matthew 12:34; Proverbs 10:11). The words you speak should build up and encourage others, honorable and wholesome, and full of compassion; they should always line up with what God’s speaks of in His Word and should always point others to Jesus and bring glory to Him.
Sometimes this is easier for us when everything in life is going well: all our bills are paid and we have plenty of money in the bank, we have great health, and our relationships are strong.
Regardless of our circumstances, we should always be yielding good fruit. In the storms and trials, the fruit that is reflected in our lives should be vibrant and fresh to “eat” for all we come in contact with. After all, the fruit we produce is not for us, but for others.
Are you making sure your heart is kept and cultivated for the seed of the Word to grow and bear good fruit?
Are you allowing the enemy to immediately steal the Word you just heard by yielding to him and his ways?
Are you making sure your heart remains soft and pliable, guarding it from bitterness or un-forgiveness?
Are you allowing the cares of this world, the riches of this world, and the pleasures of this life crowd your heart with nasty weeds that choke out the potential fruit?
If you can answer yes to the last three questions, chances are you are not guarding your heart with all diligence like Proverbs 4:23 exhorts us to do. Not only do you have to keep weeds from choking out the seed of God’s word, you just must care for the fruit that you do have.
Again, it is so important to protect your heart from cares of the world and bitterness and unforgiveness. If upkept, spiritual growth in your life will be stunted. Remember, keeping and guarding your heart bearing lasting, good fruit is a lifetime process! But keep abiding in the life source, the Vine, Christ Jesus!