“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 awhile, and when persecution or tribulation 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 becomes 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.” Matthew 13:18-23
It is so very obvious that the message of the gospel finds a varied hearing among all the men and women and young people of the world. Some do not acknowledge it at all, even though they hear the good news, but turn a deaf ear to it; maybe even mock. Others receive it with enthusiasm and joy, but it doesn’t take root and dwindles away through lack of persistence. Then others give ear, find it worthwhile, but the concerns of their life take precedence over what is infinitely more important, and they shrug it off. One group hears it, and takes it genuinely to heart. They recognize it as truth to be treasured above the other cares of this world. It takes root in fertile heart soil. It transforms them. They are no longer their own. They submit to the Lord of their life and realize they are truly free men and women as they give their life to Him. Varied responses, which bear the scrutiny of observation and experience, but only one that results in saving faith, bringing with it the reward of lasting and eternal salvation.
It is a certainty that all men and women, and young people, who live, hear the gospel message in one form or another, at one time or at many times; it is either spoken or read to them, or by the impression of the moral law of God on their conscience, written naturally on their heart. They have the opportunity to respond to it in pretty much four diverse ways which Jesus describes in telling the Parable of the Sower. The young men who God sends to the Paul Anderson Youth Home hear the gospel many times during their stay here. Not unlike the parable Jesus tells, they fall into one of four categories of audiences. It is always our hope and desire that what they hear takes root in them in a fertile heart which bears fruit to a hundred fold or more. That is not always the case. The other three categories are also at work within them, much to our sadness. But we are not discouraged to the point of moving on from them. As long as they are among us, we persevere to convince their hearts of the transformative wonder of seeing the word take root and producing the fruit of a changed life in the soil of their heart.
Looking at this parable from the receiving side – the side that is hearing the gospel, rolling it around in their mind, trying to decide if this is for them or not, or procrastinating to some later time, if later ever comes – is it really possible to do anything about transferring fertile soil into your heart, and eradicating it of rocky, thin, thorny soil which gives no room for roots to grow? Is the soil in your heart a given, predetermined sort that will never allow the seed of the gospel to take root in you? The response then is, “This isn’t for me. Why even bother?” Or can you, in your own mind and strength, determine, “Hey, I want to give this a fair chance; I want to see if this seed of the gospel can take root in me. What do I need to do to insure there is some fertile ground in my mind and heart to give this seed a fair chance to really grow and not wither away? What can I do, if anything?”
One, do not worry about what your peers, your friends, or your family will think. Get alone with your own thinking. After all, this is YOUR eternal life you are most concerned with, not someone else’s. Take time alone to think about what you have heard or been hearing. Give it a fair chance of serious consideration. Think about praying alone to God about giving you personal guidance. Be willing to privately ask questions you may have of a genuine Christian you know. Spend some time alone in your thoughts taking stock of the seriousness of the gospel message on all of your life and eternity. Read the Bible. Ask a Christian where to start. Think on what you read. Ask yourself, “How do I decide if this is true? And, is it true for me?” If you consistently blow off the gospel message as not for you, or not for you now, you are insuring rocky, hard, thorny soil remains in your mind and heart. Of course, nothing will ever take root, and you will be ever wondering, what did I pass up? That is, until you become a hardened skeptic and mocker of the God who is, and the Savior who saves. Then it becomes almost impossible to believe.
The very best time to consider the claims of God on your life is when you are young. If you do by chance procrastinate to an older age, one of two things will happen. You believe the gospel message from God, but regret the years you threw away. Two, you become too hardened to believe and squander any opportunity of eternal life. Consider what the Bible says about hearing the gospel, especially when you are young: “Today is the day of salvation!” Not tomorrow, or in ten or twenty years, but today. That is because you do not know what tomorrow may bring. You are not insured tomorrow will bring an opportunity to hear and receive what will determine your whole eternity.
Four responses, and three of them are bad, spoken from the mouth of the King of all creation. Transplant some fertile soil to your mind and heart. Take matters into your own hands. Do not allow the seed of the word to fall on a hard, indifferent heart. You can now do something about it. Tomorrow it may well be out of your hands. This parable of Jesus is not spoken frivolously or in error. It is spoken in truth and has ramifications for the entire world. Will you hear it, and do something about it while you can?
“Let not the world’s deceitful cares the rising plant destroy, but let it yield a hundredfold the fruits of peace and joy.”
(3rd verse of John Cawood’s hymn, “Almighty God, Thy Word is Cast,” 1819)
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