Luke 8:4-15 tells us, "One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: 5 “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. 6 Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” 9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets[a] of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they look, they won’t really see. When they hear, they won’t understand.’[b] 11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest."
As I read this text, what stands out to me is that the key to being good soil is to avoid being corrupted by the 3 problem paths Jesus mentions:
The Popular Path.
The Superficial Path.
The Pleasure Path
The popular path is the Enemy’s favorite. It’s the road most traveled. It’s the path of cultural norms. Satan and his demons promote and guard this path as Jesus states. When the word is shared with those on this path, it’s “stepped-on” or discounted. Then, the “birds” or the Enemy devours it such that it’s no longer visible/available. It’s a path of the politically-correct, riddled with popular public opinion. Frankly, the Enemy doesn’t care how this path is made as long as it does NOT lead to Christ. It could be a religious path such as Islam or a secular path such as what we see in the U.S. In either of these examples, the ONLY thing not acceptable is to claim that Jesus is the only way to connect to God and thus, live your life. Those who share this are looked on as were Christians in the first century—a danger to be dealt with harshly.
The superficial path looks good. On the surface, it’s Christian. Those involved use the right words, sing the right songs, read the right devotionals with the right translations of the Bible oft quoted. They have awesome bumper-stickers and may have their kids in Christian schools. They go to church—most of the time—but they’re careful to make sure their church isn’t too demanding or “radical” in applying their faith. They are cultural Christians—but find some of what Jesus said and certainly much of what Paul wrote to be “over the top” and maybe offensive. These folks are fine being Christians—as long as there’s no persecution or danger involved.
The pleasure path is similar to the other two paths, but the focus is more clearly on sensual and/or material pleasure. As such, money and the pursuit of it may dominate this path more than the others. In order to enjoy “the good things in life,” or “keep up with (and surpass) the Joneses,” people on this path will work themselves to death if needed. Or, they’ll just preach and promote the idea that Christianity is all about financial and physical abundance. Health and wealth will be primary. The problem is that chasing these takes away from their focus on Jesus and his mission. This is in direct contrast to what Jesus taught in Matt. 6:33.
As mentioned above, the good soil is soil rich in nutrients and absent the traits of the other three types. Jesus said that people in this category are honest, good-hearted, and cling to the Word. This is their path versus the popular, superficial, or pleasurable. Honest, because that's the opposite of the popular, PC culture where we all PRETEND to agree on our "non-offensive" speech or opinions. Good-hearted because the implication is that these folks are noble and their faith is deep. Finally, Jesus says they "cling" to the Word. Scripture is something they study and take seriously. It is their treasure, not gold or silver per se.
The result is fruit—probably lives of others they care about as they’ve reached out with the same “seed” in obedience to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20.
Let’s strive to be this soil—soil that reproduces for God’s Glory…
To that end,