The main thrust of the Parable of the Soils (Matthew 13:1–23, Mark 4:1–20, Luke 8:4–15) is how one responds to the Word of God. It categorizes four kinds of responses (hearts) unbelievers manifest as they hear the Word of God (seed) sown to them. Number one is the hard heart whose hardness resists the Word of God and makes it easy for the devil to come and take away the Word from their heart so that they may not believe and be saved. The second kind is the shallow heart. It receives the Word with joy when they hear it. But they have no root. They believe for a while but in time of testing they fall away. The third one is what I would call the crowded heart. They are the ones who hear the Word but as they go on their way, they are choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasure. And they do not mature. The fourth and last response is the good and noble heart. They hear the Word, retain it, and by perseverance produce a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
But why should I spend time talking about resistant hearts, why spend time talking about shallow hearts, why spend time talking about crowded hearts to believers who have trusted Christ as their Savior? Why should I be talking about having the Word of God stolen by Satan, or starved by the flesh, or strangled by the world? Why am I talking about this way? I think there is another application to this parable; not a primary one, but something worth our while as Christians. Let me introduce you to a believer. His name is Juan de la Cruz. You know him well. And Juan has come to faith in Christ. You would never question the fact that he is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you doubt it, ask him, he’ll tell you so. Juan de la Cruz is like many of us. We discover that how we respond to various situations may represent the four different hearts that Juan may have. When it comes to church, he’s a good soil. He loves the Word of God, and in fact he has a good number of verses tucked in his memory. But when Juan goes to work, he acts strangely. Because you see Juan is filled with worry. He’s on a career path, and that career path is so important to him that in the interest of business, and since ‘everybody does it’, he compromises a little bit here and a little bit there. And because he wants to get up to a higher grade salary level, or to get that promotion, he makes a trade-off with his faith. And suddenly, Juan discovers in his relationship to business, he’s got a crowded heart, and he’s not as fruitful spiritually at work. What about Juan de la Cruz in his relationship with other people, perhaps even in relationship to his family? You begin to discover that Juan, ye this same man who when it comes to church can be very faithful. When he’s out in business he can have a crowded heart because of the worries and the desire for possessions and all of these things. But when it comes to relationships you discover that Juan can be very emotional such that when he meets a person, he can just give him over to that person only to find out later when adversity comes, and his own personal convenience is compromised he cringes himself away from any involvement to that person. Juan can be very emotional, but he can be very superficial in his relationship and have a very shallow heart if he’s not careful. And when it comes to income tax time, when it comes to bedrock issues Juan can even have a resistant heart, despite the fact the Bible says that we need to be characterized with honesty and integrity. I submit to you we all have a mirror from Jesus and to each of our own hearts we want to be good soil people, and yet it’s possible that in some situations we are very crowded hearts, and still in other situations we have very shallow hearts. We must realize that when God begins to plow deeply, He wants to plow the whole heart. You and I need to come to an awareness that Jesus is not Lord of just a part of our lives. He is Lord of all of our lives. You and I need to understand that we ought to listen when God speaks, then we become aware of the fact that we are responsible for what we hear. We are responsible to take that seed and allow it to work so in our life that it touches every part of our life. Because we ultimately lose what we don’t use. The seed is the Word of God and the four kinds of soils represent man’s heart. What kind of heart do you have today? Do you know how I could tell? I can tell by how you respond.