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The Big Picture

Updated: Jun 12, 2022

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no roots. Other seeds fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still, other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Matthew 13: 3 - 8

There is a certain sense of unfairness associated with the Parable of the Sower, it may never have occurred to you. If you think deeply about it, this is not really a parable about the Sower or about the seed. It is a parable about Soil, the ability to receive seed and germinate in response to the Sower’s effort and the seed’s nature. You have probably heard this story.

The Sower is anyone who speaks about the kingdom of Heaven (the seed), the soil represents the heart of the hearers of the word. The “unfairness” here is that soil does not determine its location. In truth, there is no fundamental unfairness, because the soil here is a metaphor for a state of mind. Our mind’s state is something we are responsible for.

The real summary of this story is that there is a relationship between the state of our minds and our capacity to reflect Christ and the kingdom of heaven, through the fruits of the spirit. For example, you cannot have self-control simply because you try to have it, or because you know it is right to have it, self-control springs from the submission of your mind to the Holy Spirit.

I would love to dive deeper into what the parable of the Soil means to me and how it could help you and me become productive for heaven.

Choices are products of priorities and values

Paul explains in Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”, As a younger Christian, I struggled to live free of Sin, even when I knew what was right and wanted to do what was right. But soon I realized that my actions were a consequence of my mind’s position – my true priorities and values, and I could never act against the real state of my mind.

For example, during examinations, I would cheat quite often, and I knew this was wrong. More importantly, I did not want to cheat during exams – for some reason, I could not help it. I prayed about it and the Holy Spirit helped me understand what was happening, through the following life event:

My neighbor, also my landlord at the time, was a “Fuji” addict, a genre of music in Nigeria. He played one specific song all the time on his loudspeakers – “bebe nlo”. I hated the music genre and hated the song, yet I woke up to the song and went to bed with the song playing, and I could not stop him from playing the song. One day, I was in a silent hall, waiting to start an exam. And at that moment, thoughtlessly, the chorus of the song blurted out of my mouth audibly. That’s when it hit me, it didn’t matter that I liked the song or not, if I heard it all the time, that was the state of my mind and sooner or later, I would act it out (or sing it in this case).

The Holy Spirit also led me to Romans 6:16:

“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?“

So, I went on a personal retreat to disconnect myself from the music and examine my priorities. I cheated because I feared failure more than I had faith in God, I cheated because I was not well prepared to face an examination that I knew was coming. The reality was, even before I set my foot into the examination hall before I contemplated the sin of cheating, I had already lost the battle.

Reflect on what you value, reflect on what you really prioritize – they determine your actions.

Think about a country like Nigeria, half the country is Christian, and it is estimated that 98% of the country is religious, and yet there is so much corruption. Government officials of all religions including Christians steal money even though they know it's wrong and maybe some do not even want to. But the reality is that they claim to be religious or to believe in Christ, but their values and priorities never changed. Their minds were never really transformed.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

Back to the parable of soil, the seed sown does not matter, the seed will only germinate and multiply if the soil is in the right state.

Why does it matter?

Our relationships are a product of our choices

We have established that we act according to our priorities and values – the state of our mind. But we are the cumulation of our actions - our actions ultimately determine where we stand and who we are. Our actions determine our stand in Christ.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” John 15:4 – 6.

This is not advocating a superficial collection of self-righteous actions. Christ knows who is his, not based on our perceived religiousness but based on who we really are.

“Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2:19

Taking a step to reflect: we know that it is in righteousness that we can stand in Christ, but righteousness is not based on knowledge alone or even of will, it is based on values and priorities. When we prioritize the kingdom of heaven, we live according to its call, and then we are aligned with heaven itself in Christ.

The same is true of evil actions, they align us to the devil. But again, we do not just act evil because we want to (almost no one admits to being evil). It starts with our priorities and values – coveting extrinsic material for example leads us down a path of corruption even if we know what the word of God says and intend to act right. It is up to each one, who we worship.

Our relationships carry consequences

Ultimately who we choose to align with through our actions matters, because each master seeks a different motive. The Devil seeks only to enslave, steal, devour and kill (1 Peter 5:8, John 10:10) but Christ’s mission is that we have abundant life on earth and a lasting relationship with the father in heaven.

My final advice, if you want to transform your life in any direction, then review your true priorities and values. No matter how hard you try, what you know and will does not transform into action, but what you value in your heart does.

“Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life” Proverbs 4:23