Four types of Hearts


                But when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parable […] And He said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?  The sower sows the word.  And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes instantly and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.  These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a short time.  Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, right away they stumble.  Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” (Mark 4: 13-20.)


                Jesus had just finished presenting an agricultural parable to the masses (A parable is a short story that illustrates a deeper truth; to discover it’s meaning, the listener is forced to think.)  In the parable, a farmer went out to plant his crop.  His seeds landed on four distinct types of soil: hard soil; rocky soil; thorny soil; and good soil.  The disciples approached Jesus afterwards to find out what the parable meant; he lovingly explained its deeper meaning to them.  The seeds represent the word of God (the message of salvation.)  The soil represents the human heart; every heart is either hard, rocky, thorny, or good.  Only the good heart is capable of producing fruit.  When God’s word is allowed to grow unrestricted, it yields an abundance of loving works and infiltrates the hearts and minds of others.

                Let’s take a closer look at each type of heart:  Hard hearts cannot be penetrated […] God is rejected without contemplation or consideration.  Occasionally a little grey haired man enters the coffee shop I frequent (he is a lawyer who defended Charles Manson.)  I give him rides from time to time and try to help him when I can.  Although in his 90’s and near death, he still has a great distain for God and is quite a vocal atheist.  In our discussions, his rejection of God is outright and he refuses to listen.  His usual response is, “Do you know how many wars have been fought in the name of religion?”  He often goes on to make jokes about the Catholic priests that have been caught molesting children.  His heart is as hard as stone; any efforts to reveal God’s truth to him are in vain; I have ceased trying to do the impossible.

                Unlike hard hearts, stony hearts are just soft enough to receive the gospel […] God’s word penetrates, and takes root.  But difficulties arise; sacrifices must be made; and sinful practices need to be discarded.  To avoid hardship, God is denied authority or is discarded completely.  A friend of mine once eagerly received God’s word.  He soon came to a crossroads; he was required to give up fornication (sex before marriage.)  He refused to sacrifice his lust, so instead he sacrificed his relationship with God.  Over the years he has gone from woman to woman; he is currently with a woman who denies Jesus Christ entirely (Being a Christian is an unpopular and narrow road; it requires sacrifice.  Jesus actually told his disciples to, “Count the Cost.”  It is very costly, but it is also worth the cost.)

                Those with thorny hearts allow God’s word to penetrate them deeply (their initial response is similar to those with good hearts.)  They endure initial sacrifice to follow Jesus; however, as the years pass, thorns begin to grow in their hearts.  (Thorns are weeds; weeds infect the soil around useful crops; they compete for nutrients and resources; unless plucked out, they decrease the productivity of the plant, and can even cause it to die completely.)  Careers, bank accounts, hobbies, homes, relationships, and recreation are weeds that can grow in the heart.  They can compete with God for time, energy and resources.  In 1966 a committed follower of Jesus Christ began working for a Christian television network.  His heart was likely filled with good intentions.  He hosted some programs that became wildly successful.  Like many television evangelists, he did on-air fundraising; his love for Christ began to compete with his love for money; he started committing fraud and gave himself 3.4 million dollars in bonuses.  In 1988 a Federal grand jury indicted him on eight counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy; he went from serving God, to serving time in prison.

                The rarest of all hearts is made up of good soil; these hearts receive God’s word and it fills them completely.  They exist to spread the word of the Lord and to bring others to the knowledge of God (without falling victim to apathy or idolatry.)  Nearly 2000 years ago a man named Paul received Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior.  From the day of his conversion he tirelessly sought to spread the gospel to every living soul.  His faith and determination did fade with age (his last days were just as spirit filled as his first days.)  He wrote a great majority of the letters that make up our new testament.  Near the end of his life, prior to be being beheaded for the lord, he wrote, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give to me in that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

                 Today, which type of heart beats in your chest?  What kind of soil has God’s word encountered within you?  Have you denied God access to your heart?  Have you allowed Him to enter, only to eventually kick him out?  Have you allowed other things to displace the prominence of a savior in your life?  Or perhaps your heart is one of the rarest of all of God’s creations; a heart completely submitted to the word of God.  If God’s word lives in you, may you never let it go; may nothing compete with it; may you cast sin aside and allow God to lead you.  Let His word produce fruit in your life and give Him the opportunity to pour out of you and in to the hearts and lives of others.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, soften our hearts, that Your word may find it’s home in us.  Help us to cast away sin, and to embrace sacrifice; knowing that our reward will be great.  Remove any distractions in our hearts that compete with You.  Compel us to spread Your word to others, that we may bear much fruit for You.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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