If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have probably read or heard the parable Jesus told about the farmer who scattered seeds. After hearing it several times, it becomes very familiar. We tend to gloss over it quickly, and to not think about it too deeply. We don’t take the time to think about how it relates to us as parents and to our children. I want to spend the time to walk through it, and to get you to think about it more deeply. First, let’s read it and then dive into its meaning and application.
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds come and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Mark 4:3-8 NLT
So there are 4 types of soil, or people. They are explained below.
The 1st seed fell on the footpath soil where the ground was too hard for the seed to take root, so the birds ate it. These people have hard hearts. They hear the word, but Satan takes it away at once. This is explained in Mark 4:15.
An example of this soil can be found in Governor Felix in Acts 24:22-27. He heard the Gospel from Paul throughout the two years that Felix had Paul in prison, but he never believed.
The 2nd seed fell on shallow soil with rock underneath, where the hot sun dried everything up. These people hear and accept the word initially, but later fall away when problems come. See Mark 4:16-17.
People with shallow soil can be found in John 6. After Jesus tells them that He is the bread of life, and that anyone who eats this bread will not die. In verse 66 we find that “many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.” Another example is Judas. When things got tough, he betrayed Jesus.
The 3rd seed fell on soil infested with thorns. The thorns grew up with it and choked it. These people hear the word of God, but the message is crowded out with the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for things. See Mark 4:18-19.
Paul tells us about someone who has thorn infested soil. In 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul says “Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica.”
The 4th seed fell on good soil. They hear and accept the word of God, and produce a great harvest. They are people who God blesses by using them to fulfill His plan for His glory. See Mark 4:20.
Examples of people with good soil can be found in Acts 16 with Timothy, and in John 3 with Nicodemus.
So what seed do you want to be? What seed do you want your children and grandchildren to be? Of course we would all want to be the good soil. We want to be used by God and want Him to be pleased with us. We want Him to say “Well done good and faithful servant.”
But all too often we find our “soil” changing and slipping into the shallow soil when problems come and our faith is tested. We start slipping into the thorny soil when comparing ourselves to others, and feeling like we have to “keep up with the Jone’s” by pursuing wealth and material things.
We need to constantly fertilize, aerate, till and water our soil to keep it healthy. We do this by constantly reading God’s word, praying, staying in fellowship with other believers, confessing and repenting of our sins, and inviting other Christians to hold us accountable when we stray. We might mess up from time to time, but our soil will stay healthy and God will use it to produce a great harvest.
It is important that our children and grandchildren know the meaning of this parable. We need to challenge them by asking them what type of soil they want to be. Then when they respond that they want to be the good soil, we need to explain what they need to do to have good soil.
The people who are foot path soil, shallow rocky soil, and thorny soil probably never thought about it or decided they wanted to be that way. So getting our children to think about it and to make a conscious decision that they want to be good soil, is a great first step in their journey of tending their soil.