Wednesday, 29 September 2021
Title: Tending the ‘soil’ of our hearts
By Dorothy Teoh
Luke 8: 4-15
Since this pandemic began, many people have taken up gardening, especially during the periods of full lockdown. There is evidence to show that gardening is good for you. It contributes to mental health and emotional well-being. In fact, even just being in the garden or among nature is beneficial.
The setting for the Parable of the Sower is not a garden but a field, although gardeners would be able to identify with the farmer’s problems. Jesus told the parable when he was becoming a popular preacher, with people coming “from town after town” to hear him. But Jesus was not interested in numbers. He was looking for sincere seekers, those who would dig deeper to find the meaning of the stories, not casual hearers.
The seed that fell along the path were trampled on and the birds ate it up. Those that fell on the rock or stony ground withered because there was not enough soil to hold moisture. The seed that fell among thorns were choked because, like weed, these grow faster than grain. But the seed that fell into good soil yielded fruit a hundred-fold.
When the disciples asked Him to explain the meaning of the parable, Jesus told them that the seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who heard the word, but did not heed it – Satan took it away before they could believe. The ones on the rock fared better – they received the word with joy. But they have no root, and fall away when their faith is tested.
Those that fell among thorns are those who could have grown spiritually had they not allowed “life’s worries, riches and pleasures” to snuff out their faith. The seed that fell on good soil not only heard the word, but they persevered to produce an abundant harvest.
And although Jesus was referring to different types of hearers, the different categories of soil could be applied to us too as individuals. Our hearts may consist of areas of “good soil” alongside areas where the soil is stony or rocky. We may be hearers of the word, but not doers. And sometimes, we may allow worries or the world’s pleasures or riches to choke God’s word and keep us from growing into spiritual maturity.
But poor soil can be turned into productive soil by taking certain steps. The condominium where I live had a patch of ground where very few things could grow. Last year, after the first MCO, a group of residents who are gardening enthusiasts decided to turn it into a community herb and vegetable garden. After adding several lorry-loads of soil and hard work, that patch of barren ground is now a verdant vegetable plot.
Gardeners know too that some parts of a garden have better soil or are more suited for growing certain plants. Even if you do container gardening on a small balcony, certain types of pots are better than others and different plants do better at different spots.
But whether backyard or balcony, all gardeners know that if you want a good harvest, you cannot simply chuck the seed into the soil and wait for the plant to grow. First, you need to ensure that you sow in good soil and then, when the plant starts to grow, you need to continue to fertilise and watch for pests and ensure that weeds do not choke the plant. Last but not least, you need to be patient and persevere.
Even a mature plant can continue to fruit under the right conditions. I have an okra plant or ladies’ finger growing in a small pot on my balcony. It has grown to over seven feet tall after bearing fruit every now and then, and has very few leaves. But I continue to water and fertilise it and, this morning, I saw three new buds! I had thought of uprooting it and replacing it with a new plant, but I am glad I didn’t.
Like gardens, the “soil” of our hearts too needs tending if we are to be fruitful. Do we have more areas of “good soil” in our hearts than patches of rocky or thorns-infested ground?
Dear Lord, help us to be as careful in tending our hearts as we are in tending our gardens. Enlarge the areas of “good soil” in our hearts so that when we hear your word, we may retain it and by persevering, bear abundant fruit, to your glory. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
“撒种的比喻” 的背景不是花园，而是一块田地，虽然园丁们能够理解农民的问题。耶稣在正成为一名受欢迎的传道人时讲述了这个比喻，人们 “从各城里” 赶来聆听祂讲道，但是耶稣对数量并不感兴趣。祂在寻找真诚的探索者，那些愿意更深入地挖掘故事意义的人，而不是漫不经心的听者。
当门徒请耶稣解释这个比喻的意思时，祂告诉他们，种子就是上帝的道。落在路旁的，就是人听了道却置之不理 – 撒旦在他们相信之前就把道夺去了。那些落在石头地上的反倒好些 – 他们歡歡喜喜地接受了；但是他们没有根，当他们的信心受到试炼时，他们就退后了。
那些落在荆棘丛中的，就是人听了道，要不是让 “今生的思虑、钱财和宴乐” 扼杀了他们的信心，他们本可以在灵性上成长。落在好土里的，就是人不仅听了道，而且持守住，忍耐着结出果实。
虽然耶稣指的是不同类型的听者，但不同类别的土壤也可以适用于我们个人。我们心田的土壤可能包含 “好土” 同时也兼有多石块的土壤。我们可能是听道者，但不是行道者。有时候，我们可能允许忧虑、世间的宴乐或财富扼住上帝的道，阻碍我们属灵的成长。
如花园一样，如果我们要硕果累累，我们内心的 “土壤” 也需要护理。我们心中的 “好土” 是否比一块块布满岩石或荆棘丛的土地还多呢？
亲爱的主，求祢帮助我们细心护理我们的心田，就像我们护理我们的花园一样。扩大我们心中 “好土” 的范围，好叫我们听见祢的道，就可以保留住，并忍耐结出丰盛的果子以荣耀祢。我们奉耶稣的名祈祷。阿们。