[Column] Cultivate Your Heart like Good Soil

Using the parable of the sower, Jesus Christ tells us that seed is the Word of God and the field is the human heart (Matthew 13:1-23). He also teaches us that the Kingdom of God takes place within our hearts through this seed and that there are four fields on which the seed falls. The first field is the way side, where people constantly pass by and seeds cannot take root. Birds eventually come and devour them. In other words, the evil one immediately snatches away the Word of God (Matthew 13:19). He who has the heart like the way side is hardened in mind, devoid of faith, and desensitized to the Word of God. The second field is the stony place, where seeds can take root because of its mildly fertile environment. Yet, the sun causes the stone to heat up and the seeds eventually die. He who has the heart like the stony place may embrace the Word of God with joy but soon fall with resentment amidst the windstorms of life (Matthew 13:21). The third field is the thorny ground. Because of their incredible proliferation, thorns can grow excessively even without fertilizer and subsequently prohibits the growth of other healthy plants. Our Lord tells us that thorns are the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches (Matthew 13:22). Simply put, world anxiety and temptation prevent the Word of God from taking root in our hearts. The fourth field is the good ground, which is free from stones and thorns. It is the heart that only seeks the Word of God and divine grace through poverty and the removal of the stones of pride, hate, anger, resentment, and complaints and the thorns of greed and anxiety. The Kingdom of God comes upon people with such a heart (Matthew 5:3). If we do not pave the ground of our way side, stony, and thorny hearts, not even divine grace present in Christ’s direct message can impact us (Matthew 13:15). Therefore, we must cultivate the ground of our hearts with prayers, the meditation on the Word, and daily repentance. Only through the Spirit of God can we attain a new heart: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

A Japanese man named Mitsuhiro Masuda turned his life around with cleaning. After lay off, business failure, and divorce, he became addicted to alcohol and other substances and lived each day in a squalid environment. One day, his friend visited and told him, “Mitsuhiro, it is a sin to live like this. What’s happened to you? Let’s first clean up your place.” As he found himself sitting on a chair in a clean room, a sense of determination arose in his heart. Soon, he started working part time at a home cleaning service company and posting articles on newspapers and internet about the powerful impact of cleaning. Surprisingly, he was promoted to vice president after six months of employment. His article increased public awareness of the importance of cleaning, which led to increased demand for cleaning service. As a result, cleaning sales at his company also increased. Eventually, he was appointed President of his company. In Japan, he coined a term そうじ力(soujiryoku), which means cleaning power and became a bestseller author of such books as 夢をかなえる「そうじ力」(yume wo kanaeru soujiryoku) and「そうじ力」であなたが輝く(soujiryoku de anata ga kagayaku).

The more I live, the more I realize how fundamental it is to maintain the cleanliness of our minds. Too many people live each day without dreams or peace of mind because they fail to keep their minds clean. We must clean and cultivate our minds to be receptive to the Word of God (Psalm 119:147-148; 119:103). Then, we can bring forth thirty, sixty, or even a hundredfold blessing. Genesis 26:12-14 say, “Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.” Our Lord assures us that if we live in accordance with the message of His Gospel we will receive a hundredfold blessing even here on earth: ““Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life”(Mark 10:29-30). Only when we cultivate our hearts like good soil can we attain the blessing of heaven and earth (Zechariah 8:12).

What is your heart like? Is it the way side? The stony place? The thorny ground? Or the good ground? Hosea 10:12 records: “break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.” Clean and break up your hardened heart and unplowed ground. Remove the thorns of unbelief, pride, negative thoughts, and anxiety through repentance and earnestly seek God. May all of you cultivate the heart like good soil and bring forth a hundredfold blessing.

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