Spiritual growth is not for sissies. It takes great guts to grow in God. Not everybody has the courage, strength, and endurance to do it.
Jesus told a parable about a path, rocks, thorns, and fertile ground that illustrates the great difficulty required to reach the fertile ground of God’s glory. Jesus taught that there is a seed to be sown, and contrary to modern “faith” preachers, Jesus did not say the seed is money. He said: “The seed is the Word of God.”
That word is not just the Bible, the written word, but the living Word of the voice of God speaking to human hearts in our generation. Jesus said; “My sheep hear My voice.”
When God speaks, what He says hits us in 4 ways:
1) God’s words can land on the hard places in our heart, which, like a well-traveled path, don’t allow the seed of what God says to take root. There are areas in our heart that the word cannot penetrate. To move towards God’s glory, we must have the guts to allow the Holy Spirit to break up the hard ground in us.
2) God’s words can land on the stony areas of our soul that don’t have much soil. Here His words may begin to grow in us, but not be able to grow deep roots. When trouble or criticism comes, it rips God’s word right out of our heart.
3) What God says to us can land among our heart’s thorns — the things that capture our attention and distract us from God. Jesus said that the thorns are the worries of our daily lives, the seduction of money, and our own desires. These things take what God says to us and squeezes it out of our heart so that we don’t obey His word. His voice gets ignored and cannot produce the lifestyle He has planned for us.
4) God’s words can land on fertile soil in our soul, where we hear, accept what He says, and allow it to permanently alter our thinking and behavior so that His kingdom comes and His will is done in us, as it is in Heaven. That’s glory.
The way of growth in God requires us to acquire the spiritual disciplines and skills and the courage to break up the hard places, get rid of the rocks, and pull up the thorns in our heart. Then what God says to us can take deep root in the good soil of our heart and begin to produce what the New Testament calls the “ever-increasing glory” that “changes us into His image.”
To read this parable in Jesus’ own words, turn in a Bible to Matthew 4:1-20. Enjoy!