Raking Rocks, Pulling Weeds, and Bearing Fruit

“The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.” Mark 4:13-20

It seems most people don’t go deep enough or last long enough in their relationship with Jesus to become fruitful followers. Three of the four scenarios where people heard the good news, some even receiving it, started and didn’t finish. Seventy-five percent. That’s a lot! Only one in four continued all the way to a fruitful life. Those are some pretty crummy odds when you think of it that way.

I guess this is why I’m such a curmudgeon and a 75% empty glass kinda guy.

Evidently there is a large majority of short-sighted people when it comes to their spirituality. Some have hard hearts, others with internal impenetrable obstacles, still others containing competing influences, none of which persevere to fruitfulness. The only path to fruit-bearing entails recognizing their internal resistance and removing the obstacles.

Those who only let Jesus touch the surface of their lives quickly fall away. Others fail to endure to the end because worries, wealth, other unworthy ambitions devour their attention. Friends of mine who’ve endured to fruitfulness over the years are ones who have been particularly ruthless with the rocks and weeds in their heart gardens.

I’ve never believed that a person is born with either a receptive or unreceptive heart. It’s the choices we make that determine outcomes. That is not to say that everyone begins with the same opportunities, privileges, if you will. But there’s no doubt the Make takes all such factors into consideration.

But here in this parable Jesus gives us the heads up about our responsibility to do due diligence about keeping our hearts plowed and receptive to kingdom seed. If we fail to do this, the consequences will be dire. We won’t grow up to be verdant trees from which others may pick life-giving fruit. But if we will rake out the rocks and pull those pesky weeds (so to speak), we will endure, mature, and become healthy fruit-bearing contributors in God’s great orchard.

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