“Don’t assume you are the good soil.” Those words written by Francis Chan smacked me in the face like a Louisville Slugger. We all hear multitudes of Christian rhetoric every day… sound bytes designed to inspire and motivate. But Francis’ question made me pause and wonder: “Am I good soil?”
Christ’s words exist for a greater purpose than adding pep in your step – his words are meant to bare fruit in our lives. Real, tangible fruit. Of course, the same is true in our marriage. We must stay in tune with Jesus, in lock-step with what he is teaching and calling us to do.
As you’ve heard us say before, Jesus must be at the center of a healthy marriage. The identity, security, and help he offers allows us to live with true love the way he designed it. But at some point, we have to ask ourselves what our marriages are producing as a result of Jesus’ involvement?
How can we ensure that we’re in tune with Jesus? Great question. Let’s look at how we hear what Jesus is teaching us and ensure we are good soil.
The Story of the Sower
Take time to really read this passage and picture each scenario. Jesus is speaking to his disciples.
Mark 4:3-9 Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Let’s take a moment and flesh out what each of these scenarios could look like for modern life and marriage. In all cases, Jesus is the Sower, the seed is his word, and we are the soil.
1: Hard ground
In the first scenario, seed falls along the path. Path soil is hard and compact, as it’s been travelled heavily. When the seed lands, it can’t take root and grow because the ground is too hard. Before long, it’s devoured or dead. If our hearts and minds are too hard, we’re not receptive to the word when it’s presented to us. As Jesus explains in verse 15, this scenario happens when the word is heard, but Satan quickly comes and takes away the word that is sown.
Action: ask God for a soft, receptive heart. Through his help, you can work through whatever is hardening your heart.
2: Rocky ground
Rocky ground lacks nutrient rich depth. Seeds that fall on rocky ground may spring into life quickly, but lack of depth causes the growth to stunt and the seed dies.
You may be experience this type of flash-in-the-pan growth if you’re not part of a solid church body. Church is not just a location, it’s the family of brothers and sisters in Christ that can help keep your soil deep.
Action: take a quick audit of the relationships in your life. Make sure you are surrounded by other couples who are hungry to grow.
3: Thorny ground
In this case, the seed grows fine but is choked to death by the surrounding bushes. What are the “thorny bushes” in your lives that are choking your seed to death? Jesus describes the thorny bushes as the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and desires for other things.
Things like career, possessions, and wealth are fine, but they aren’t the main thing. Jesus must be at the center and every decision must be weighed against his word and guidance. His word gets choked in us when we allow the “thorny” things to take precedence over what he is teaching and where he is calling us.
Action: consider what potential “chokers” might exist in your life and what priority they hold. What would happen if you removed every thorny bush in your life?
4: Fertile ground
Fertile ground allows the seed to grow and bear fruit. This represents a heart that hears the word and puts it into immediate action. When we act on the word and obey when asked, the return will multiply.
Are you fertile ground? What are some ways you can work with your spouse to make sure your marriage is fertile soil?
Photo credit: grantmatthews