Fruitfulness of the Word Matt 13:18-23 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
The word of God, like seed, is designed to bear fruit. When it is sown, it does not return void [Is 55:10-11]. However, the condition of your heart [the soil] has a lot to do with the fruitfulness of the word in your life.
In the parable of the sower and the seed, the seed is sown by the wayside, in stony places, among thorns and in good ground. Fowls devour the seed sown by the wayside. The sun scorches the seed sown in stony places. Thorns choke the seed sown among thorns. The only place where the word is fruitful is in the good ground. These four soil types picture the four different conditions of your heart and the fruitfulness of the word in each.
Wayside – The wayside typifies a hard heart and the fowls typify the devil. As fowls devour seed that falls on the wayside, so the devil takes away the word sown in a hard heart because the man doesn’t understand it. A hard-hearted man is like Israel in Matt 13:14-15. When your heart is hard, the word of God has no affect on your life, at all. You can talk with a hard-hearted fellow after a sermon, for instance, and the conversation will be as if he didn’t even hear a word that was spoken.
Stony Places – The stony places typify a shallow heart and the sun typifies tribulation and persecution. As the sun scorches seedlings, so tribulation and persecution will offend a shallow hearted person. When your heart is shallow, you will hear the word and you may even respond to it joyfully. However, it won’t be long before you begin to suffer a dose of tribulation or persecution because of the word. And when either of these comes, you will get offended [contrast Ps 119:165]. Consequently, the word will not bear fruit in your life because it will not have had time to grow into a plant and bud. Before it can bear fruit you won’t want anything more to do with it. I often meet people who were offended by someone in church and they have not grown since. They were scorched and that’s the end of it. They may be tender hearted about some things but they have stony places in their heart about others. And these stony places prevent the fruitfulness of the word.
Thorns – The thorns typify a heart concerned with the care of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, the pleasures of this life [Lk 8:14] and the lusts of other things [Mk 4:19]. As thorns choke plants before they can bear fruit, so cares, riches, pleasures and lusts in your heart choke the fruitfulness of the word. When your heart is choked, you may hear and know a lot of the word, but it isn’t going to bear fruit in your life. Your heart is overwhelmed with the care of this world [Lk 10:41-42], the deceitfulness of riches [1 Tim 6:7-11], the pleasures of this life [2 Tim 3:4] and the lusts of other things [1 Jn 2:15-17]. There is no way the word of God can be fruitful in the midst of all of that.
Good Ground – The good ground typifies an honest and good heart [Lk 8:15]. As good ground provides the perfect soil for seeds to grow, mature into plants and bear fruit, so a good heart is the perfect place for the word of God to be received and bear fruit over time.
So, there are some things about this heart that we need to understand.
- Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life [Prov 4:23] – don’t poison and corrupt your heart with defiling influences and don’t become hard hearted toward preaching – maintain a tender heart toward the Lord.
- Deal honestly and truthfully with the Lord when he shows you something out of the word – do what it says – and take the reproofs.
- Make sure there is plenty of the word sown in your heart – to an extent, the more you attend to reading, exhortation and doctrine [1 Tim 4:13], the more of the word there is in you to bear fruit.
- Make sure that you understand the word that is sown in your heart [Prov 22:17-21] – in other words, don’t let somebody plant some false doctrine in your heart and don’t think that just because you heard something that you understand it – study.
- Keep the word [Lk 8:15] that is sown in your heart – it may be years before the Lord calls upon it to bear fruit in your life.
- Be patient [Lk 8:15] because it takes a long time for the word to bear fruit in your life – young men are often too hasty.
- Leave the quantity of fruit production to the Lord – a man in whose heart the word bears thirty-fold should not envy a man in whose heart the word bears a hundredfold nor should the man in whose heart the word bears a hundredfold look down on the man in whose heart the word bears thirty-fold.
Conclusion: The lesson is obvious – you must take care of your heart – get the stones and the thorns out of there so that the word can do something in your life.