Productive Soil, Productive Faith #2

“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15)
 
The Productive have good hearts. Although most of your texts say, “honorable and good hearts,” a literal reading of the text would be “good and good hearts.”

However, Jesus is not stuttering or repeating himself here. He is using two different Greek words for good, each with a significantly different nuance.

The first term, kale means good as in that is useful for fulfilling its purpose. This would be in contrast to something broken so that it is not useful.

Every so often, when the kids were younger, I would help them sort through their toys. In doing so we would inevitable come across something that one of them would want to keep. It would be broken, have parts missing, or just plain not work, such as a dried out marker. Sometimes I would ask them, “Does it work?,” to which they would answer, “No.” So my thought was then throw it away. 

Kale means that their heart was still able to do what God had created it to do. It had not become hardened. It was still pliable, soft to the things of God … able to be shaped by his word … receptive to his call … moved by his commands.

Within this term is a test of faith that many of us need to examine – Am I fulfilling the function for which God has designed me? Is my heart still functioning well, so tender and responsive to the things of God, or have I started to become hardened to God’s call?

But the second term carries a different nuance.

Agathe means of good character. This is the moral person … the person of character … the heart that has rejected sin and seeks to live according to God’s standard of morality and character.

This is the person that understands that  God desires for us to reflect his character … to be holy because he is holy … to love because he loves … to forgive because he has forgiven us.

This is the kind of good heart that Jesus had in mind when he shared this garden metaphor.

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45)
 
Is your character good? Does it stand out in the midst of a corrupt society as something that is admirable? Or is your character tainted?

From where does this new heart come? How does one achieve a heart that is not hard and corrupted, but is soft and full of grace and truth?

In the book of Ezekiel, the prophet, speaking on behalf of God says:

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26, 27)

Here is the promise in that verse … I don’t want you to miss it … God is saying that it is not too late. If you’ve had a hard heart … if you have been pushing back against God … if you are still struggling to open to him … if you still are battling against character this looks more like the world than like a child of God, he can still change your heart.

People all around will say, “People can’t change.” Yet, change is just what God is offering. He is saying that he will provide a heart transplant that will remove your stubborn struggle with the presence of his own Spirit.



Productive Soil, Productive Faith #1

And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 8:8)

But we need to ask: What does it mean to be productive spiritually? What is Jesus pointing us to in showing this productive soil with its overwhelming level of yield?

 

In verse 14, we have defined for us the failure of the thorny soil to bear fruit. The term translated mature is actually a fruit bearing term, but it has a negative attached to it. So those distracted by prosperity, passions and worry have fruit that never grows to maturity. Their faith is immature.

I used to wonder why people would shuck their sweet corn at the grocery store. I no longer wondered after I bought a bag of sweet corn one day several years ago. When I sat down on the back step and began shucking the corn, to my surprise, I found that about half of the ears were little more than leaves and silk. Oh, it had kernels on the cob, but few had filled out. The ears had only partially developed. The ears offered plenty of promise, but little fruitful maturity.

In this contrast between the immaturity of the crop in the thorny soil and the productivity of the harvest from the good soil, Jesus is speaking of the fully developed life of a disciple. In the following chapters of Luke, specifically 9, 11, and 14 Jesus will speak extensively about the cost of following him. The kind of person it will take to be his disciples … The self-sacrifice of cross bearing … The willingness of count the cost … The hard moral choices … The enduring commitment to follow Jesus wherever he goes and however hard it gets.

Paul speaks in comparable life changing terms in Colossians 1:

Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, … so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; Colossians 1:5b, 6, 10

The Productive is the person who isn’t willing to settle for a partial following, a marginal discipleship, a divided loyalty.

The Productive is all in … Nothing held back … Nothing in reserve … No holds barred … Never give up.

It is the mature faith that will not be satisfied until it has the character of Christ reproduced, and multiplying within themselves.