Matthew 13:1-4a, 5b-6, 20-21 - That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about Him, so that He got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And He told them many things in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. And as He sowed, some seeds ... fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. ... As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, immediately he falls away."
Some years ago, my husband bought me a beautiful gardenia in a pot for Valentine's Day. The white flowers glowed. I was enchanted, but I was also afraid. How would I keep it alive? I learned as much as I could about caring for the plant, and I watered it faithfully. Still, my fears came true. The gardenia died, and I felt terribly guilty.
I decided to recycle the pot, so I went to lift the dead plant out. Then I got a big surprise! The plant had absolutely no roots. As far as I could tell, it never had had roots, at least in that pot. Someone had cut a flowering branch off a bigger bush and shoved it into the soil to make it appear like a normal plant. We had been cheated.
I was angry, but I was also relieved. It wasn't my fault the plant died! Without roots, nobody could save it. It could not take in water or the nutrients in the soil. It was doomed.
Jesus makes a similar point about people who hear the Gospel message. A lot of people will say they believe and seem very excited about their new faith. They may even throw themselves into things like church attendance and Bible study. But not all of these people stick. Some of them quickly vanish—and when you hear of them next, they have stopped being Christians. They had no root. Everything looked fine on the surface, but when trouble came or they had to deal with suffering, they were out.
How about you—have you got roots? When times of suffering come—and they will come—will you stick?
The problem with the plants in Jesus' story was that they didn't have enough soil. They couldn't develop any roots in an inch or two of dirt overlying solid rock. In the same way, a heart like a rock isn't going to be a place where the Gospel can grow deep roots.
But ground can be changed—with a huge amount of effort, it's true, but still. It is possible to break up rock or to remove it altogether. It is possible to break up stony hearts and to transform them into places where the Gospel can grow and thrive. No human being can do this, yet the Holy Spirit can.
If you are concerned, ask the Holy Spirit for help! He is the One who makes faith grow in our hearts, and He can deal with the conditions of your heart, no matter what they are. Let Him have His way with you. Then the good seed of the Gospel will grow in your life and produce thirty, sixty, or even a hundredfold harvest for Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Lord Holy Spirit, work in my heart to make me good ground for the Gospel. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Did you ever plant a garden? What was easiest to grow, and why?
2. What was hardest to grow, and why?
3. In what area of your life would you like to ask God to help you grow better and be more fruitful?