Welcoming the Word
Open Your Bible
1 Thessalonians 2:13-16, Matthew 13:1-9, Acts 13:44-52
Our heart’s readiness to welcome God’s word can be examined much like a farmer examines the ground for planting. There is healthy, usable soil (a ready heart), and there is hard, difficult soil (a heart not yet prepared) that takes a lot of effort and back-breaking work to make usable again. In the book of Jeremiah, the Lord warns Israel about allowing the soil of their hearts to become hard and thorny. He tells them to “break up the unplowed ground” and “not sow among the thorns” (Jeremiah 4:3).
God’s people were planting seeds without having prepared the soil of their souls, and so the seeds of faith had no ground to mature. How do we avoid planting seeds of faith on rocky, shallow ground? How do we practice breaking up the hard places of our hearts to welcome God’s word into our hearts?
I’ve never personally planted anything—caked my hands with dirt, gently cradled roots, or sought the best soil for a plant to grow well. I can barely keep indoor plants already potted in good soil alive. So, I can only imagine the difficult work of removing large rocks, gathering thorns and weeds to be thrown out and turning the ground into something usable.
Thankfully, when it comes to matters of our hearts, Jesus came to break up the unplowed ground through His life, death, and resurrection. When Jesus was on earth, He brought the good news to the Jewish people—His people—though they had not done a good job of keeping their hearts prepared to receive Him. Welcoming the word of God is more than receiving a Bible passage or following God’s law; it is receiving the person of Jesus (John 1:1). Some people were threatened by His popularity and power, so they constantly looked for ways to silence Him; the soil of their hearts rejected Jesus.
Yet, there was another group of people who received the word of God and welcomed it (1Thessalonians 2:13). These people had hearts with good soil, and when they heard about Jesus, the seeds of faith took root. And to all who received in Him, “he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name” (John 1:12).
As children of God, we must tend to the soil of our hearts more than once. When growing food or flowers, it’s necessary to prepare the ground seasonally. We can’t simply plant a seed and walk away, hoping to grow good food the next year without any effort. We must regularly practice the spiritual discipline of welcoming Jesus into our hearts. We need to tend to the soil of our hearts, so that it does not become overrun by weeds and thorns. We need to water our faith often with the word of God, replanting some unmet desires through prayer.
Take time to examine your soil. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you break up your unplowed ground. “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” (Ephesians 3:17, NLT).