by Tim Howington
When I was growing up, I got an opportunity to live with my Grandma Sasser. Her name was Ruda and she is one of the great influences of my life. She was born in 1903 and I was born in 1962. Almost 60 years separated us but we were good friends. Her youngest daughter- Charlotte was my mom and when my folks divorced in the early 70s, we moved to Sasser’s house. We lived with her until we found a place of our own. By that time my Grandpa Sasser had passed, and Grandma was thoroughly entrenched as the matriarch of the family. Aunts, uncles, and cousins made regular stops to see her all the time. The funny thing about her was that even though you knew she had other grandchildren, she made you feel like her favorite.
Grandma had 5 daughters and no sons (actually she had a son who did not live very long), so when I moved into with her at 16, I was the son she never had. My mother had remarried, and I was not getting along with my step-father. So, after a big argument with him I went to stay with Grandma. I would live with her throughout high school and college. She was what our passage describes as good soil. And her children and grandchildren would rise up and proclaim that as true. She impacted all of our lives.
As we continue our study with parable of the soils, what we find today is good hearted people who allow the Word of God to be implanted in their hearts and the seed grows to maturity
We pick up in Matthew 13 (NASB).
3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the Sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 “Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.8 “And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 “He who has ears, let him hear.”
Jesus describes the 4th soil as good soil. I have never been a farmer and did not get the green thumb for gardening around the house either. In fact, as I write this my arms are covered in poison ivy from my brief foray into planting some bushes in my yard. Maybe that means I have the Ivy Thumb. But the soil the Lord describes here is one in which composition of the soil yields a crop. All were fruitful- some more than others.
Listening to the explanation of Jesus in verse 23 of Matthew 13
18 “Hear then the parable of the Sower. 19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he afalls away. 22 “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, 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.23 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
Let’s make some observations:
- The seed was sown on good soil
- Describes the man who hears and understands the word of the kingdom
- The people bear the fruit (who indeed bears fruit and brings forth)
- Some produced a crop 30 times what was sown
- Some produced a crop 60 times what was sown
- Some produced a crop 100 times what was sown
The big question that the passage begs is what it means to bear fruit. To bear fruit is to live in fellowship with God in such a way that we please him and our character and our ministry produces what He wants a believer to produce. Mark Twain says that there are two great days in a person’s life- 1) the day you are born 2) the day you discover why. God wants us to produce fruit.
How do we bear fruit? One passage that give us some insights are John 15 where Jesus describes our abiding with Him as the key to bearing fruit. Apart from abiding in Christ we cannot bear any fruit.
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
What is fruit from God and what is not? In Galatians 5, Paul gives a great contrast of the fruit of the flesh as compared to the fruit of the Spirit. This list will give you some insight as to whether you are producing poison ivy or godly fruit.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: aimmorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, dfactions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Fruit of the Gospel? The last kind of fruit is fruit of the gospel. We are supposed to be sharing the good news of Christ and the message bear fruit of salvation for people all around us. In Colossians 1, Paul writes
3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;
So, the essence of fruit bearing is
- Abide in the vine. God produces fruit in our lives
- One kind of fruit the fruit of the Spirit. God produces this in our lives.
- One kind of fruit is the fruit of the Kingdom- Souls of men and women.
When I came to Christ in college, Sasser was so happy. She told me the story about how every week at her church they had a time to share prayer requests and then there was an opportunity to lift your hand for an unspoken prayer request. From 16 to 22, I was her unspoken prayer request. So thankful for her and I look forward to seeing her again. The picture in this post is the last time I saw her on the planet. She had had a stroke and was staying at Aunt Jean’s house. I went by for a quick visit. You can see why I thought that I was her favorite.
By the time I came to faith, not only had I come to faith but my mom had a spiritual renewal of her faith so that two of my heroes were Ruda and Charlotte. Godly women showing the way for their loved one.
When Grandma Sasser died (and later when Charlotte died too), I was comforted by Paul’s comment to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:5-I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
My grandmother was Ruda and my mother was Charlotte but their faith impacted my faith and their love for God resides in my heart as well. Because they were good soil, I became good soil and will hopefully produce fruit accordingly.
Tim Howington. Follower of Jesus. Husband to Terri. Dad to Josh. Wanna-be writer. Bird Watcher. Novice Fly Fisherman. Discipler of Men. Some people call me the Howitzer.