Cultivation and the Parable of the Soils

Cultivation and the Parable of the Soils

Echoes of previous sermons haunt me. Don’t be the bad soil.

You know the parable. Farmer sows seed. The seed falls in four places: the path, a rocky place, a thorny, weedy spot, and the cultivated field.

Only the field yields a crop.

But—

Wasn’t the soil the same? I doubt seriously that the soil next to the plowed field was dramatically different in makeup and content. Powdery red dirt that changed to thick gray clay in the space of a few inches? I doubt it.

And—was the farmer expecting a return from the other three spots?

We have land near north central Texas, where some cousins raise cattle and wheat. I can’t ever remember Cousin Gerald being disappointed that the dirt road didn’t bring in a harvest. Or that the cow pasture just didn’t yield as much as the neighboring wheat field.

Why?

The wheat field had been cultivated. The other areas had not. When the rocky ground and the thorny place didn’t produce, I don’t think the farmer was shocked. So, if the soil itself is not the issue, what lessons does this parable teach? Fruitfulness is linked to cultivation.

Lesson 1: Cultivation is a big deal.

It’s the difference between having a crop or not. Spiritual hardness, life’s testing of faith, and the distractions of culture hinder growth and maturity. Ground that’s been broken by the plow and cleared of rocks and weeds proves fertile. Are you open to cultivation? The quality of your relationship with God and your productivity for the Kingdom depends on it.

Lesson 2: The farmer and his workers initiate cultivation.

God, not the soil, starts the process. Our job is to cooperate through obedience. Yet, we can simultaneously be soil and hired hand. As God cultivates our field, He gives us the opportunity to work in fields around us. Children, grandchildren, the cashier at the grocery store. Whether you’re a scarecrow battling birds in spiritual warfare, or a hired hand moving rock or pulling weeds, you help cultivate others. Intercession, encouragement, teaching, accountability—all are the work of the laborer. Who’s working in your field?

Lesson 3: Cultivation is a process.

None of us began as a forty-acre field, plowed and ready for planting. Our own productivity –and consequently, our impact on other fields—depends on how we respond to the cultivation initiated by the Farmer.

Are there rocks and roots we need to release?

Do we need to address the spiritual warfare issues at hand instead of hoping they will just go away?

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any resistance to the Farmer’s plan or spots of disobedience.

And if you are interceding for other fields, be encouraged. Our Farmer Father is no slacker. As in the parable, when the field has been cultivated and the Word has taken root, the harvest will come. Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV) says this, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Questions:

Can you look at your relationship with God and see bits of the cultivation process?

How’s your field today?

Who is working in your field?

What fields have you helped cultivate? How?

Tweetables:

Fruitfulness is linked to cultivation. Click to tweet.

Cultivation. It’s the difference between having a crop or not. Click to tweet.

God, not the soil, starts the process. Click to tweet.

We can simultaneously be soil and hired hand. Click to tweet.

Our own productivity depends on how we respond to cultivation. Click to tweet.

Our Farmer Father is no slacker. The harvest will come. Click to tweet.

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