My wife was away at our women’s retreat recently which means I had a weekend with my four kids. Whenever my wife leaves town we go into survival mode. This mode consists of the bare minimum that needs to get done every day to make sure everyone is alive by the end of the day. It also gives us the ability to try out new things like breakfast for lunch. As we made our scrambled eggs, hash browns, and bacon everyone was beyond hungry. As we sat down for lunch, my oldest son stood up and came back from the kitchen with what he called the “secret sauce”. This was a collection of spices in one container, which had no label, that would make anything taste great. As I put some of this “secret sauce” on my eggs, I became a believer. Whatever was in that container was amazing.
In Matthew 5:13–16, Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” You heard it right! If you are a follower of Jesus, you are to be the “secret sauce” to this world. We are created to be the seasoning of the kingdom of God to this world. If a seasoning has no flavor, it has no value. If Christians make no effort to affect the world around them, they are of little value to God.
We need more “salty” Christians in this world. We need Christians that do not blend in with everyone else. Instead, we should affect others positively, just as seasoning brings out the best flavor in food. “Lost its taste” is the verb from the Greek that means dull, sluggish, stupid, or foolish and means to play the fool, to become foolish, of salt become tasteless. The Bible says that when we are not salty, Christians we are walking as fools.
Matthew 5:15-16 says, “Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Our lights were created to shine bright before men. If you put a hover over a candle for a few seconds, the flame is extinguished. The candles that were used in Jesus’ day would be placed on a projecting stone in the one room house and would give light for the entire house. This is the picture of God’s great design for His children. To let our light shine before men.
Unfortunately, some hide their lights. We hide our light by: being quiet when we should speak, going along with the crowd, denying the light, letting sin dim our light, not explaining our light to others, and ignoring the needs of others. People see our light shine specifically in seasons of trial and difficulty. Peter says to the persecuted church in 1 Peter 2:12, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” As we let our light shine in difficult seasons, people will glorify God on the day of visitation.
Jesus shares a parable in Matthew 13 to an audience well acquainted with agriculture. He shares a story of a sower who sowed great seed quality into four different types of soil: hard pack, rocky, thorny, and good soil. Jesus used this parable to show how the powerful message of the gospel has four different responses to it. One path leads to everlasting life while the other three lead to destruction.
I believe this parable to be extremely important to the church in America and a culture that claims to be 70.6% Christian. Matthews 13:18-23 is the explanation Jesus gives His disciples of this parable. The first type of ground the good seed lands on is the hard-packed path. The seed lands and has no place to take root so it is snatched away. This person hears the gospel of Jesus Christ, and may even be able to recite it, but before it takes root the enemy snatches it away.
Unfortunately, this is the response of many to the good news. There is an intellectual grasp of the message, but it stays there. To have a mental grasp of the gospel does not mean a person has placed their trust fully in the gospel. Salvation is beyond mere head knowledge. It is an entrusting of oneself into the care of Jesus Christ’s grace and love. According to Matthew 7:24-27, salvation accompanies a person that not only hears the word but also does the word. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
The second type of soil the good news lands on is rocky ground. This is the one who hears and responds immediately with great joy. The Word tells us that in the midst of all the excitement, there is no root formed, “but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away” (:21). This type of response shows an immediate reception but no understanding. It is a temporary response that quickly fades when tribulation and persecution come. It is not a gradual loss of interest, but a collapse under pressure.
Once I tried to plant grass seed among the rocks in our front yard. I saw grass starting to grow there in early spring, so I figured I would add more seed to make it look nicer. After a few weeks the area looked beautiful. Emerald green grass everywhere that looked like a putting green. As the temperature started to increase, I quickly realized something was wrong. I started watering the grass and even contemplated fertilizer until I came out one day to see all that green grass a scorched brown lifeless patch of death in my front yard. The problem was the roots. These poor seeds had no deep rooting and were torched at the first sign of heat. So it is with one that has the good news land on the rocky soil of their heart.
The third type of soil is the seed that is sown amongst thorns. This person hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word (22). This is a gradual slow process that the seed is choked out. What a description to show the great dangers of the cares of this world and deceitfulness of riches. The word cares in the Greek is the same root of where we get anxious. The word delight shares a similar meaning to deceit in the Greek. The cares of this world that bring anxiety along with riches that deceive us choke out the gospel message from the heart.
There is a dangerous pattern in life that the older we get the more lukewarm we can become. The thorny ground shows the slow fade away from the gospel into a life of comfort and ease. Our interests become worldlier. Our desires and thoughts circulate around professional sports teams and our kids interests. As our passions become more and more worldly, people find themselves caring more about money than gathering with the saints desperately trying to find peace outside of Jesus. The gospel edge and passion starts to fade and we remember days when we use to burn with love for Jesus. Over time the cares of this world and deception of riches lures another into the trap of love for this world.
Matthew 24:12–13 says, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Did you hear that? The love of MANY will grow cold. Matthew 10:22 says, “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Do you hear the consistent word endurance? When the seed of the gospel is sown on good ground, a person will endure to the end.
The last type of soil is good soil that bears fruit AND yields 100 times, 60 times, or 30 times over. That means that fruit will accompany the life of a true disciple of Jesus. It is not enough to mentally ascend to the gospel, but it must be connected to a commitment that comes from trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord. Not all will respond, but there will be some who do, and the harvest will be rich.
Through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, Paul exhorts the growing church in Corinth to, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5–6). I believe this is Paul’s exhortation to you today. Examine yourself through the lens of these four types of soil. Which soil type are you? Are you ready to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus today? He is ready to meet you where you are at and give your abundant life. Open the door of your heart and invite Him in!
-Pastor Chris Hippe