We are all familiar with the parable of Jesus found in Matthew 13 – the Parable of the Sower, the Seed and the Soil. As you study the parable, it is obvious that the Sower is Jesus, the seed is the Word of God, and the soil is the heart of man.
I want to capture verses three and four and then comment on them as it relates to preachers and preaching. “And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, ‘Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds feel beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.’”
God is looking for hearts that will hear, receive, and absorb His Word. What He often finds, even inside the walls of an evangelical church, are shallow hearts that are easily distracted. Remember this: an easily distracted heart will be a destroyed heart. The devil has come to steal, kill, and destroy. The heart that is shallow is vulnerable to the enemy.
My mentor Vance Havner said, “Every preacher ought to remember that he has four kinds of soil before him when he preaches, lest he be unduly discouraged, if all fail to bear fruit.” He continued, “Our old adversaries – the world, the flesh, and the devil – are in evidence in this parable, but the order is reversed. The devil comes first stealing away the seed sown by the wayside.”
I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve poured hours into a message only to end it staring at an empty altar, folded arms, and people gathering their belongings to rush out for lunch. I rarely preach revivals anymore because the reality is that most churches don’t want revival. They don’t want a heart transplant; they want a bandage on a hemorrhage they are ignoring. They would rather bleed out than admit they need the Great Physician to do radical surgery on their soul.
I’ve wasted a lot of good sermons in my life. Oh, I’m sure the remnant heard it and a few took notes or marked in their Bibles, but, for the most part, preaching that day was a waste of time. No one came to church wanting to hear from God, bow before holiness, or make a life-changing decision.
If it weren’t for Jesus, I’d be depressed. I’ve reached the point where I know we don’t need more sermons, newer sermons, hip sermons, more props, better powerpoint, or better iPads to preach from. What we need is a hunger to hear the Word of God. I find that strangely lacking in our culture.