Is it the time of the year for a checkup?

Published 6:22 pm Friday, February 3, 2006

By Staff
The days are short, the nights are long, the sky is dreary, and life has taken on a certain predictability that can be monotonous.
We wonder if we will make it to Spring break.
The excitement of the holidays is long past, the snow we were looking forward to is one more thing to slog through, we have already failed on most of our New Year's resolutions, and tax time is coming. It is times like these when we need to check up on ourselves and see how we are doing.
We can check our journal and see how we were doing last year. We can look at others and try to gauge ourselves, but that is not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). The only true standard is the Word of God.
God does not leave us clueless during these times. In the gospel of Luke, chapter 8, verses 5-15, Jesus taught the parable of the sower. The parable is about four different types of soil. There was the wayside, there was the rocky ground, there was the weedy thorn patch, and there was good ground. The seed the sower was planting was the Word of God. Each soil reacted differently to the seed.
A good gauge for our spiritual condition is to see which type of soil our lives best represent.
The wayside was busy. The ground was packed by a lot of traffic. The seed that fell there was vulnerable. It did not have time to settle in. It was there, it had potential, but it became bird food (Luke 8:5).
The rocky ground was not healthy soil. It had no depth and was not conducive to long-term growing. This soil was not prepared. The seed sprouted and grew some, but withered away in the heat of the day.
The weed patch was good soil, but it had not been cultivated. The good seed that was planted there was not given a chance to compete with all the other seed. Weeds grow fast. They rob the moisture and the sunlight from other plants. The result is that the good seed gets crowded out.
The good ground produced a bountiful crop.
We all want to be good ground and have fruitful lives. How do we get there?
Our first thought is that what we are is set and we have no power to change. That is not true. We can put ourselves in the right place with the right attitude to be fruitful and bring glory to God.
A phrase in Luke, chapter 8, verse 15, gives us the key, “the [seeds] that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.” Somebody said, “Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can.”
We must do an honest self-appraisal. What kind of soil are we? If we are wayside, we need to pull back from the high traffic area and shoo the birds away. If we are rocky ground, start pulling some rocks out of our lives. Put them in a big pile over to the side and give our lives some depth. If we are a weed patch, pull some weeds, and get some of the clutter out of our lives.
The noble and good heart will come if we simply follow the example of Jesus Christ in Philippians, chapter 2, verse 3, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
Then we must bear fruit with patience. It takes time and diligence to produce a good crop.
Will there still be traffic, rocks, and weeds? Yes, but all those things are controllable if we simply cry out for God's help.
Our spiritual condition right now is the result of choices we have made. Our future spiritual growth is dependent on the choices we make now.
As Christians we have the power to change and lift ourselves by the grace of God.