A good tree bears good fruit. Matthew 7:17 tells us exactly this. “Every good tree bears good fruit”. But when a tree is not healthy and it does not bear good fruits or it bears few fruits, we almost always blame it on the kind of soil where the tree is planted. The soil is where the roots are founded, grown, and are thrived. The roots will not absorb needed and sufficient nutrients if the soil is not good or healthy. A good soil is clean, free from impurities, fertile, and where air and water can flow all around it allowing the roots of the tree to take in nutrients and water needed by its parts.
A Christian growth is likened to a tree. Once we placed our faith in Jesus, we do not stop there in the place of initial belief but we should move up gradually so that every nutrient we receive from the Word of God should make us spiritually taller, stronger, healthier in foliage, and firmer in roots. Most importantly, we should come to the season of bearing fruits. Ultimately, the “nutrition” we gain from the Word of God should lead us to “bearing fruits”. When we delight in God’s Word and we put our trust in God, we are likened to a tree that bears fruit in its season.
“He will be like a tree planted by the streams of water, that produces its fruit in its season, whose leaf also does not wither. Whatever he does shall prosper.”– Psalm 1:3 (WEB)
“You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”– John 15:16 (WEB)
Many can see and hear but not all can understand. Unless the heart, which is the soil for God’s Word, is ready to receive the Word of God, which is the seed, a person would continue to see and hear without understanding. Unless a person truly understands, then he or she fails to bear fruits.
In Matthew 13:1-23, Jesus tells the people about the Parable of the Sower and later on He explains that not all people who hears the Word will bear fruit. God teaches us important truth in Matthew 13:15. People can see and hear but it its possible that they do not truly understand.
“…for this people’s heart has grown callous,their ears are dull of hearing,and they have closed their eyes; or else perhaps they might perceive with their eyes,hear with their ears,understand with their heart,and would turn again,and I would heal them.’”– Matthew 13:15 (WEB)
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus also explains that not all who hears the Word bears fruit. Therefore, people can be there listening to God’s Word or attending church service or mass every week, yet it is possible that they do not bear fruit or if they do, they may bear bad fruits. Why can this happen? A person who can be so joyful in receiving God’s Word is not an assurance that he would bear good fruits later on (Matthew 13:20).
Jesus explains that the type of soil matters in growing good tree that will bear much fruits. When the ground is not good, its growth may appear to be promising at first, but in the end, the kind of fruits the tree will bear indicates its true condition. It is the condition of the heart that matters. A healthy heart (not physical health) is a heart that is able to receive the Word of God with all understanding and sincerity that the Word can be like a seed that will grow roots that will sink in deeply into the heart and cause it to grow and eventually bears fruits and produces more fruits.
In that parable, Jesus explains three things as to why people hear the Word but fail to bear fruits.
- The heart is like the ground in the roadside when after hearing the Word of God, the evil one comes and snatches away what the person heard. (v. 19)
- The heart is like the soil in rocky places when even after hearing the Word with such joy, the Word cannot have roots for the ground is too rocky for roots to grow that it easily wilts when oppression comes. (v. 20-21) Unlike in Psalm 1, in this condition the seed or whatever small growth it has, will just wilt away.
- The heart is like the soil in a thorny place when after hearing the Word of God, the many cares of this world and deceitfulness of riches choke what the person heard like the thorns that choke the plants from growing. (v. 23)
We learn from this that when the heart of the person is not in the right condition to receive the Word of God, it is a futile “hearing” and “seeing” that are taking place because the Word cannot take root and grow in the person’s heart. He may be seeing the works of God around him and he may be hearing God’s truth around him, but he just could not understand and perceive the truth. It is like a bad soil in the roadside, in the rocky place, and in thorny ground. When the heart is not a “good soil”, 3 things can easily happen.
- The evil one snatches the truth of God’s Word away rendering us blind from the truth.
- Difficulties, troubles, and oppression will be too overwhelming to bear that it becomes easier to fall away from God and forget the truth we heard from His Word.
- The cares and deceitfulness of wealth of this world come between us and our faith in God. Like thorns they fence us in, close around us, and stop us from growing and living in God.
But what does a good soil look like? A good soil is the “healthy heart”. It allows the seed to grow and be protected from rocks that try to hinder its roots from growing and from thorns that try to choke it. The seed can grow its roots and grow into a tree and bear fruit. A good ground is a heart that do not just hear the Word but it is the heart that accepts the Word with understanding of the truth that, out of it, there is bearing of fruits and much more yielding of fruits.
“What was sown on the good ground, this is he who hears the word and understands it, who most certainly bears fruit and produces, some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.”– Matthew 13:23 (WEB)
A good ground is not apart from the rocks or the thorns but it is a ground that is cleansed from rocks and thorns and secured from threats. We are in the world and there are many things around us — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — that could choke us, but when we are in Jesus Christ, we are secured. A heart that understands God’s Word remains secure even with troubles and oppressions around. Its roots are deep and they thrive in the “Living Water”.
What is foremost is not how much we know the Bible (though this is important too) but how well we receive the Word of God. When we put this first, the knowlege of His Word will just abound and this won’t be just a head-knowledge of Bible verses but a deep understanding of God’s Word like a man planted by the streams of water. This is the man that bears fruit in God.
Changing the condition of the heart of man is never the job of any person. We can share the Word and spread it but we need the help of God to change hearts of man. We could not even change our own heart. How, more so, could we change other people’s heart? It is God alone who can mend, heal, and transform our heart to turn it into a good soil. Let us pray for more hearts to be ready and willing to receive the Word of God with all understanding.