There are amazing things going on in the spiritual realm when the word of God is read or proclaimed. There is an ongoing interaction between the word, the devil, and human hearts that cannot be seen, but is very real.
Jesus revealed this profound three-way interaction in a parable. He tells us that the word of God is like seed that is sown, and human hearts are like the soil. Some will hear the word of God with little interest and little attempt to understand. For these, Jesus says, “…the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in the heart.” (Matthew 13:19 NAS95) Satan is very real, very active, and very dangerous. He will gladly snatch away the word before it can ever germinate in the heart.
Some will hear the word and accept it joyfully, but only for a while. For these, Jesus said, “… he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” (Matthew 13:21 NAS95) Isn’t it tragic that in times of trouble, some will turn away from the very thing they need most? We see it happen today—people turn away from God when life gets difficult instead of running to Him all the more.
Some will hear and accept the word, but then it is choked out by thorns. Jesus said of these people, “…this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22 NAS95) Worry and the love of money and pleasure have a powerful blinding effect on people. Worry will stop us from trusting the promises of God. The pursuit of riches and pleasures will cause us to feel self-sufficient and uninterested in blessings from God. In the end, no fruit is ever produced.
And yet, there are those who will hear the word “…in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” (Luke 8:15 NAS95) These are the ones who bear fruit for God, “some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” (Matthew 13:23 NAS95) These are eager to hear, eager to accept, eager to live the word of God. They hold on to the life-giving word of God with all of their might. They are richly blessed, and they bear much fruit for the Lord.
What is the lesson for us? Jesus said, “So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” (Luke 8:18 NAS95) We have a choice before us today, and every day concerning how we will listen to God. May we always listen with good hearts and hold fast the word in our hearts.