Good Soil (14-10-20)
Bible Reading: Matthew 13:3-8
Jesus told them many things in parables, saying: "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.
Unlike most people, who retire in the community in which they have been living, when Helen and I eventually retire, we will need to move house and ‘settle down’. We sometimes think about the sort of house we would like. High on that list of priorities is that it must have a garden with good soil; forget the modern kitchen and the ensuite bathrooms! We have spent all but about four of the last forty years living in houses where the soil in the garden has been a mixture of clay and stones. Great for roses, but a pain to dig. We did have four years on Norfolk coast where the soil was like sand, and you could dig it with your bare fingers!
Good soil is a bonus for farmers and gardeners alike, and from it you can produce a good crop. The amount of the crop, though, depends on both the soil and the seed that is sown. Runner beans and courgettes can produce serious yields from a few seeds, cabbages and kale do well, carrots are disappointing in heavy soils, and we’ve never got on with peas and cauliflowers. You do need variety, though; you wouldn’t want to eat just runner beans and courgettes throughout the year!
In Jesus’ parable, it didn’t seem to matter how heavy the cropping was: thirty, sixty or a hundred times what was sown, as long as the soil was good and enabled a crop to be grown, and I think there is a lesson for us in this. If we see ourselves as the soil in which God sows the seed of his word, the gospel of Jesus, we can all do something about the quality of the soil. We can allow the love of God to soften the hard areas, we can remove the stones so that we can put down deep roots of faith that will withstand the pressures of life and we can weed out the wrong priorities that threaten to strangle out the life of our faith. The soil will then be good.
It seems to me, though, that the size of the harvest then depends on the seed, not the soil. We are tempted to look at other people, compare ourselves to them, and then feel either discouraged or self-satisfied with our lives; neither very helpful. God doesn’t want us all to be the same, he just wants us to be good soil and to be fruitful according to the way he has created us, whether it’s producing a sack full of potatoes or a bowl full of raspberries!
Reflect for a moment on the life that God has given you. Are there any things that you could do to improve the soil quality of your life, so that God can produce a harvest?
What are the gifts and qualities God has given you? Rejoice in your uniqueness, which is all part of the rich and varied harvest of God's kingdom.
Thank you Jesus that I am a unique and valuable part of your creation. May my life be good soil in which you can produce a unique and valuable harvest that will glorify your name.
Behold the author of our salvation