Soil of The Heart

I have been giving a lot of thought to the Parable of the Sower that Jesus told in Matthew 13:3-8. In it He speaks of four types of people, and how they respond to the gospel. In short, it's a look into the condition of people's hearts.

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

In this short story Jesus references four soil conditions .... a hard path, shallow rocky soil, thorny soil, and good soil. As a pastor to students I am constantly evaluating where my students are in relationship to Christ. Some are obviously very close to Him, some far. I see all the soil conditions Jesus spoke of represented in my ministry.

Current statistics say that roughly 75% of students that graduate out of a youth ministry will walk away from their faith. I hate that. I have seen it. I have spent countless hours trying to figure out where we as a Church have gone wrong ,and why students are dropping away? While I think there is much the Church can do to better disciple students and equip them to make a life long commitment to Christ, I believe ultimately it comes down to their heart condition, the soil of their heart.

In verse 4 of Matthew 13, Jesus describes a path in which the seed falls upon and is quickly eaten by birds. I see this as the student who just does not care. We share Christ and the great life we can experience because of Him, but unfortunately they just don't care, not even enough to consider it.

Verses 5-6 speaks of the rocky, shallow soil. This is the person who responds quickly to the message of Christ but then almost as quickly as they responded, they back away. This person could be described as an emotional responder. If the mood is right, like at a camp setting, mission trip, or some other special event, they respond, but when they come down off the emotional high, it as if nothing ever changed.

Verse 7 tells us of the seed that fell among thorns that quickly choked out the young plant that has begun to spring up. This is the person that makes a commitment to Christ but then lets the concerns, worries, and temptations of life take precedent over Him. While they say the love Jesus, they love the world more.

Lastly we read in verse 8 of the seed that fell on the good soil. The soil that allowed for the seed to take root and grow into a strong plant that yields great fruit.

As I thought about this scripture in the context of my ministry, God began to reveal to me that I need to be praying for soil. I need to pray for the soil in my students hearts.

In the parable we see 25% of the people who have had "seed" sown into their lives, really going places and making a difference for the Kingdom. That is the same statistic as above!

The good news to all of this is, the 25% that let the seed really take root, produce a great harvest, a "hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." I have seen that, and it's exciting!

Instead of just pondering and even complaining about why we see the large drop off rate, may we instead commit to praying for the soil in the hearts of students. May we pray that students would taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) and give their lives fully to Him, in complete surrender. It is then that we will have the joy of bearing witness to a great harvest!


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