How To Grow In God - The Meaning of the Parable of the Sower

I think we as humans tend over complicate everything we put our hands…and well minds to. Because I have been in the church for many years now, I hear people talking about their relationship with the Lord often. Often it seems people are stumped on how to grow and deepen their relationship with God. This is something I tend to struggle with but the truth is that Jesus made it super easy and super clear how to grow and thrive in our relationship with Him and our walk in this life. He even used plants as His example.

Today I wanted to share with you an explanation of the parable of the sower. You can find this parable in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20 & Luke 8:4-15. I personally think you should go read all of them. I spent years not understanding the meaning of the parable of the sower and just passing over it as I read. My husband got super excited about this story about a year ago and that inspired me to dive in and study it. In this parable Jesus tells a story about a sower who goes out to sow seed. The seed he scatters falls on four different types of soil and each type of soil gets a different result. After the parable Jesus explains what everything means. The sower is Jesus and those of us that spread and share the word of God. The seed is the word of God aka scripture and the soil is our hearts. 

Our hearts are like soil. They have the capability to produce so much goodness. Unfortunately we tend to not think about what condition our hearts are currently in. Soil that isn't well conditioned and prepared wont produce much. Also if you have no idea what to do after the seed is planted you probably wont see a harvest. Mike and I learned this last year when we went and spent money on tons of seeds and dirt and watering cans and weird egg carton looking things. One Saturday afternoon, after we spent a good bit of time bickering about how many seeds we should plant in each hole, we planted all of our seeds in the weird cartons and watered the living day lights out of them. Spoiler alert. We grew nothing. Nothing ever emerged about the dirt. We had no idea what we were doing & honestly we got bored with the idea pretty quickly. Luckily when it comes to our hearts and how we hear we’ve been given some pretty clear instructions. 

Now lets look at the four types of soil and glean what we can from this parable.

The Path/Wayside

A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. Luke 8:5
The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Luke 8:12

So the first place we see the seed land is on a path. Remember that back in these days there was no such thing as concrete. If there was a path it was just well worn dirt from a lot of foot traffic. I think that sums up this heart condition. It is well worn. This person is heavily distracted by their own cares and just life in general and there is no way the word of God can even get through to them. They simply aren’t interested and they aren’t seeking. Seeds are tossed their way by a godly friend or through a sermon at church but they just keep going. It goes in one ear and out the other and then they trample right over it as they continue in their routine. They’ve forgotten everything by the time they’ve settle on a restaurant for lunch.

These people are super vulnerable to the enemy because they are easy prey. He just steals the word by keeping them distracted and worn down by other things and their hearts remain hard to the voice of God.

The Stony Ground

And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Luke 8:6
And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. Luke 8:13

These are those who hear the word and they get super excited. The pastor shares something and a fire catches inside the person. They receive it with great joy it says! Right away, like a little sapling, they spring up and from the surface they appear to be doing great! Mike and I would have been thrilled if something had sprung up in our pathetic little garden! The problem is these seeds have no depth. The soil was full of rocks and stones.

The soil wasn't tended to so the roots have nowhere to go. It says these withered because they had no moisture. Life shows up as it often does and challenges us and these have such a shallow understanding and relationship that they wither. They have no moisture therefore they don’t endure. Things get hot and they fall away. They have unbelief and no discipline. They have no solid beliefs so when shaking comes they just fall. 

We have a place here in West Virginia called Cranberry Glades which is full of swamp land. In the swamp lands, these huge trees grow and grow and appear to be pretty strong and sturdy. However when storms come and heavy winds they literally just fall over. When that happens the shallow roots are exposed. The roots don't grow deep because of the acid in the swamp they are growing in. 

One the surface you may look impressive but whatever is happening underneath matters. You may be able to fool people for a season but heat and persecution finds us all. You need depth. You need something solid to hold on to when persecutions come. You need to be attached to Jesus assustaining source when the heat comes.

The Thorny Ground

And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. Luke 8:7
And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. Mark 4 18-19

These receive the word. They have deep roots. They begin to grow but it says that thorns begin to grow and they choke the plant. It’s rob it of it’s nutrients as weeds tend to do so they never produce anything. Jesus tells us in Mark that the weeds and thorns represent the cares of this world, the deception of riches and the pleasures of life. 

I think I identify with this soil quite a bit. Who hasn’t had a season where one of these three things was choking the life out of you? Let’s start with the cares of this world. These are filled with anxiety. It doesn't say they love the cares of this world. It says they are choked by them. The cares of this world will leave you riddled with anxiety. When you are being choked by cares you have no rest. You are consumed. You fail to trust God with those worries and you make the cares idols. The cares (insert whatever cares plague you here) consume you and your thoughts and you won't let God touch them.

Then there’s deception of riches. The key word is deception. They are deceived. They are convinced that “riches” will protect them. They have a false sense of security in possessions or even status. Money, status, possessions and the like will never fully satisfy or sustain. 

Then there’s the pleasures of life. These make me think of garden gnomes because when I read this I think idols. The pleasures of life are usually not in and of themselves bad. Not always but usually they are awesome things that God has given us and instructed us in how to use them. Their purpose is usually to cause us to be in awe of their creator. Instead we worship creation rather that creator. We elevate these things to God status in our lives and we create idols and distractions. We indulge ourselves with these pleasures. The result is that we are choked off from the Word and we then are starved of the nutrients we actually need to grow and thrive in God. 

The Good Ground

And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:8
As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:15

I love the good ground. My heart is good soil and so is yours. Even if you have some work to do in the garden of your heart, you stillneed to claim this by faith. These people are fruitful. They value the word of God. When it is sowed into their lives they treasure it and tend to it. The Bible says this hearer held fast to the Word with an honest and good heart. 

Notice it doesn't tell us that there were no stones or thorns. When gardening these things show up from time to time but the key is that these things do not rule in this heart. This person knows how to do business with their hearts. These hear the Word of God and know that it is power so they choose to understand and hide it away. These tend to the seed planted within them with regular reading of scripture, prayer and meditation on the word that is growing in them.

They identify their stones and the things that would keep them from going deeper in God and they partner with Him to remove those things. They wage war on pride, anger, deceit, unbelief, lust, past offenses and the like, all in pursuit of deeper intimacy with God. 

They tend to their hearts regularly, taking inventory and pulling up weeds and thorns. They recognize when they’ve put up those weird garden gnomes (idols of course) and have built up walls or put their hope and trust in the wrong places and they repent. They tear down those idols and walls and they refocus on what really matters and they receive love and forgiveness and no matter what they preserver and they endure. They are patient knowing things that are planted don’t just appear over night but take time and care. And eventually, they produce fruit. Tons and tons of fruit.

Take Heed How You Hear

Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” Luke 8:18
If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. Mark 4:23-24

The Bible talks about how God sends out His word. (Psalm 107:20, Isaiah 55:11) He is constantly throwing seed through all kinds of different messengers. It matters what you choose to do with the word of God. Jesus says in Mark to “take heed how you hear.” That means you have to be conscious of how you are hearing and what you are doing with what you heard.

God won’t come and steal the stones and garden gnomes out of your garden. He wont sneak in and spray weed killer on all of your thorns while you’re sleeping. Don’t get me wrong He will totally help you get rid of those things because the truth is you actually can’t get rid of them without Him. What I am saying is you have to let God touch those areas. The process requires you to surrender your control and let God have his way with the garden of you heart. 

This is how we grow. This is the way to a deeper intimacy with God and a life that produces fruit for the His kingdom.

If you read all of this up to this point then 1. good for you! & 2. I want to know what you are thinking! Let’s discuss this further in the comments below. If you found this helpful at all then please share it so that we can scatter these seeds even further. 

Thank you guys for stopping by and reading. If you still want more then check out this post called How to Trust God More which I love. If you want to stay connected and receive awesome encouragement and other goodies straight to your inbox make sure you are in the Living For Love VIP Club!

Love y’all,