Debbie Salter Goodwin
Got Any Good Dirt?
In the backyard where we lived in St. Louis, the previous owner had put in a raised garden. I decided I could plant some vegetables and started with tomatoes. I fertilized them, weeded around them, packed newspaper to keep the ground moist and watched them grow up and over my wire cones. It was the summer of great tomatoes! We enjoyed them on sandwiches, salads and just sliced.
In contrast, my neighbor planted some tomato starters at the back of the yard against their fence. They were pitiful. Their scrawny vines barely produced. I never asked how their tomatoes tasted.
What was the difference? The soil. The creators of my raised garden brought in good, worm-filled, mineral rich soil. However, my neighbors assumed that yard soil was good enough as long as there was rain and sun. They were wrong.
Jesus taught the same truth in his parable of the soils. You remember the different soils: There was the hard-packed path where seeds simply sun-bathed above ground and became fast food for the birds. There was rocky soil where the seeds put down quick roots only to find it impossible to find a way through the rocky maze to go deep. Still other seed had to compete with thorn bushes. No matter how much effort they gave to grow, it was useless. The thorn bushes were bullies and choked them out. Finally, some seed found good soil and thrived.
Whether in a garden or in our heart, where we plant is as important as what we plant.
Jesus himself plainly explained his parable to his disciples. Have we forgotten his commentary: Here is my summary:
1. Hearing Bible truth is not the same as planting.
Estimate how much Bible teaching you hear in a week. Then, compare it with how much you take into your heart where it actually grows. Most of us hear much more than we plant. We give little thought to cultivating good soil.
I started a new practice to address this imbalance in my life. I start my devotions on Monday with the question: What is my Sunday take-away? I can only handle about one or two truths but that’s two ways to make sure the seed of truth finds the best soil in my heart so that it can grow.
2. Life has thorny soil.
Jesus compared thorny soil to a worry-infested life. He told us plainly that over-focus on worries will prevent growth. Contrary to popular practice, worry is not a spiritual activity. While we can’t remove the challenges, we can change how we address them. The seeds that wants to grow here is the seed of trust. Trust does not ignore the problems. Trust gives more power to the only One who can handle them. If you call yourself a worrier, Jesus addresses this message to you!
3. Understanding God's truth should lead to application and growth.
Proverbs 4:7 reminds us that “wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” In other words I can stuff my head with knowledge and never do anything with it. But when I allow God’s Spirit of Truth to help me understand the message and how it applies to me, well that’s deep gardening work!
If we want our hearts to be the garden where God plants, we need to water, weed, and fertilize. Nothing grows well without care except weeds.
Below is another 5-minute Bible study to remind you what should be growing in the garden of your heart. However, it will take you more than 5 minutes for these truths to grow.
As Jesus said, “He who has ears, let him hear.”
Review Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Then, answer the following questions based on what you already do or what you need God's help to do..\
1. What will grow deep roots?
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. NLT
2. What fruit should be growing and why?
9 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. NIV
3. How does worry prevent or slow down growth?
25 That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 28 And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? NLT
4. What fruit should we grow? Which fruit is underdeveloped in your heart?
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! NLT
5. What fertilizes the soil of our heart for productive growth?
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples.
Based on these scriptures, evaluate the growth potential of your "dirt." What does your soil need to enhance growth?
If you want to download this as a 2-page worksheet, click here:
Additional Blogs on Spiritual Growth
5 Ways to Stunt Spiritual Growth 1-5-21
Spiritual Growth for Late Bloomers 6-20-20