Parables of the Bible Part II - The Sower: Stony Ground
As I continue our series on the Parable of the Sower, I want to focus on the stony ground today.
Matthew 13:5-6 NLT
5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.
Jesus went on to explain that these are those persons who hear the message, receive it with joy but because there is stony ground found right beneath the surface, the seed cannot find its way to deep ground where it can grow and thrive. What’s more is that whatever it produces in that shallow ground dies because it cannot withstand the trials of life.
Many believers hear sound teaching from God’s Word but yet to do profit from it. They are impressed with what they hear and it provokes an initial emotional response. But that response is temporary and leads to no true and lasting change. Then when their faith gets tried, they are unable to persevere. The King James Version of the Bible actually uses the word “offended” – they become “offended”; they stumble; they fall down; they take offense at the Word and become angry with God because the Word doesn’t “work” for them.
But the Word of God does work - it is alive! It encourages us and it provides guidance for our daily lives. It speaks to the blessings of God: how He is fighting on our behalf; how He has equipped us and made us overcomers; and how He has given us abundant life. But the Word also warns us about trying times in this life: about tribulations; about temptations; about enduring hardships and perplexing situation; and about suffering persecution. So, in addition to receiving the Word with joy, we must also receive the Word soberly, with reverence and humbleness, and with introspection.
As believers, we need to learn to endure some things. We lack the ability to persevere. Perseverance is the effort required to do something and keep doing it until the end, even if it's hard. What’s more, the Apostle James emphasizes for us that our ability to persevere helps us grow and become complete in Christ Jesus. (James 1:2-4) To become complete, you’re going to have to endure some things that are hard.
In this parable, the stony ground right beneath the shallow soil prevented the Word from growing deep roots in that person’s heart. So, we need to remove whatever stones we can. We need to break up the “fallow” ground – the hard, unproductive places of the heart where stones hide, and get rid of them. Sometimes the stones are so small that they are not easily seen. This is where God moves in to remove the stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ez. 36:26)
If you’re struggling with a stony heart today, I encourage you to plow up the ground of your heart so that stony places can be revealed and unearthed. Then, the seed of the Word will have opportunity to grow and prosper in your life. He who has ears to hear and understand what Jesus has said, let him hear and heed. (Mt. 13:9)