The first sign of bad soil is a bad crop. If anyone is having trouble
with their vegetable garden, they can take a sample of their soil to the local cooperative extension office or university to be tested. Results can cover the pH level of the soil sample, levels of nutrients and micronutrients, how much organic material it contains, and whether or not it contains any toxic heavy metals such as lead. In addition, gardeners can receive information on what they need to do in order to improve the soil they have so that they can get a better crop for their effort.
The quality of the soil will affect the health of the plants growing in it. If a gardener is quite happy with how the garden is producing each year, the soil is probably in pretty good shape!
It’s Time for a Heart Soil Test!
How would you rate the soil of your heart when it comes to the Word of God? There’s a test for that! This is a two-part test, so let’s get started . . .
Jesus has a lot to say about dirt in Luke 8. Here is his explanation for the parable of the farmer scattering seed:
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word.
The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved.
The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.
The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.
And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest” (verses 11-15 NLT).
Soil Test Part 1
The soil test results are found in the condition of the crop. What is growing in your life out of your time in the Word? Do you grab hold of what you read or hear, and patiently let it do its work in your life? Or are you distracted by temptations, worries, and wants that keep you from tending your garden?
If you have trouble understanding what you read, Jesus has a promise for you: “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given” (verse 18). Putting time and effort into reading and understanding the Word of God will yield results, and you will begin to grow in your understanding.
But if you’d rather not make the effort, take care: “But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them” (verse 18). Let’s not lose what we’ve gained, but instead acquire more!
Soil Test Part 2
Producing fruit from our time in the Word is not all simply sitting back and letting it happen. Trusting God to do his perfect work in our hearts and lives is only half of the process. The other half is found in verse 21: “Jesus replied, ‘My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it‘.”
When you encounter truth in Scripture, how quickly do you obey it, putting that truth into practice in your own life? Obedience is more than a heart attitude. It requires action. Jesus taught a great deal on the importance of obedience. Here’s an example from Matthew:
“‘But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. Which of the two obeyed his father?’ They replied, ‘The first'” (Matthew 21:28-31).
May our words and actions line up with the Word of God as we grow in understanding, that we may produce much fruit for his Kingdom and bring him great glory!
Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.