Becoming a ‘good soil’ person

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By Jessica Brodie

One of the most frightening visuals to me in the Bible is the one about the Word of God falling like seed onto the earth, only to get choked and die off in the thorns.

Jesus liked to teach using stories, and this one is called the “Parable of the Soils.” I imagine him sitting around a campfire, feet up, tone all once-upon-a-timey as he painted ideas into life.

“‘A farmer went out to scatter seed,’” Jesus began in Matthew 11:3, then went on to describe how some of the seed fell on the path and quickly got eaten up by birds, some on shallow ground where it sprouted weakly and prematurely, and some among thorny plants, which choked the seeds as they grew. Only the seeds scattered in good, lush soil bore fruit.

Later, Jesus explained the meaning for us (Matthew 11:18-23): If we consider the seed as the word of God, then only the word planted within the hearts of “good soil” people will grow and thrive. If the word is planted in bad soil, though—whether rocky, sparse, or thorny—the word won’t grow at all. It’ll wither and die.

We know what happens to the good soil people—they win the prize and get eternal life. But what about the bad soil people? I think the meaning is pretty clear. Death, not life.

My small, scared voice rises up within me every time I read this parable: Am I good soil?

I wonder if that’s the question we all ask ourselves. Can the word of God grow within me?

Imagine with me for a moment: all that gorgeous, perfect, precious seed, carried so tenderly in the farmer’s hand, only to fall in soil that’s not quite right. What a waste! The sparse and shallow soil are sad enough places, but for me, what is saddest is the thorny soil. The thorny could be good soil—it’s deep enough and thick enough—but for the thorns. The thorns take over and choke the life right out.

Jesus says seed among the thorns “refers to those who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the false appeal of wealth choke the word, and it bears no fruit.”

You read that right: our worries and anxieties, our petty riches and false gods, choke the Word of God right out of us.

So how then do we become good soil, not thorny or sparse soil?

It starts by pushing aside all other worries and understanding that God comes first. Nothing else can get in the way. Nothing—not terminal illness, not money woes, not a struggling family life.

When we are good soil people, the bad stuff might be there, sure. But the good overpowers the bad, relegates it to its proper place of unimportance or low importance. So sure, we might lose our job, but we don’t allow that concern to take over our life—it becomes another something to deal with and shove aside as we uncover God’s next steps for our lives. We might be faced with a relationship difficulty, but it doesn’t break our hearts entirely. We keep perspective and understand that God is Lord of all things—and trust that he has a plan. Even if we’re faced with death, when we’re good soil people we know the death of our bodies is not the end. It’s only starts the next chapter for our souls.

I want to be a good soil person. And so I’ll do what I can to help God’s word grow in me as it should. I’ll work each day to shoo away my troubles so I can put God first.

HOW ABOUT YOU? Are you trying to be a good soil person? In what ways do you struggle with or achieve this?

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