“A teachable spirit” what does that look like to you? I first heard the phrase from our pastor’s wife a few years ago (if we can still call the last century a “few” years ago). When I heard the phrase I nodded my head, I understood what she was talking about; but as time goes on I recognize the value of it even more. I have also come to know that it is essential to healthy growth.
A teachable spirit is a lot like ground that has been plowed and softened in preparation for seeds to be planted. Try throwing some seeds on ground that isn’t prepared to receive them. You might get a plant or two, or maybe not. The wind could blow the seeds away or birds may eat them. Very few have a chance of surviving and taking root.
A teachable spirit reminds me of the parable of the seeds found in Matthew 13: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
The seed was exactly the same in each of the settings; the difference was the soil it was being planted in.
Rocky shallow soil, ground full of thorns or other weeds, unyielding hard ground that has not been watered for far too long – all are places that a healthy crop is hard to grow.
The good soil received the seed, the seed grew and produced a crop. The harvest was abundant.
Good soil doesn’t usually just happen. Generally it has been prepared to receive seed, plowed, worked, turned over; rocks, thorns, and weeds have been uprooted and removed. Good soil is usually the result of some hard work on our part, and even after we’ve done the work we have to depend on God to bring the rain.
It’s not an easy process, but it is necessary in order for healthy growth to happen.
In the soil of our soul rocks take on the form of stubbornness, a spirit that is unyielding to correction or truth. Rocks have the potential to break the tools that are necessary for preparing the soil. Yet the thing about a rock is if we can work it up and recognize the strength and beauty in it the rock can become an appealing part of the landscaping. Rocks are strong and stable in the right place, but buried they are a hazard to growth in the soil of our soul.
Weeds have other names when it comes to matters of the heart: guilt, bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, greed, jealousy. They form over time and if not dealt with and removed they will quickly take over. Mark 7:21-23 gives some names to those heart weeds: “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
Thorns often take on an angry look; the thorny part is what we see, but there is usually a thick, deep root that needs to be dug up too. Often the root of those thorns is a result of things that have happened to us in the past. Whether we bury them deep to keep the pain from overwhelming us or intentionally hang on to the feelings they invoke we allow them to become a bitter seed that takes over the healthy soil that is needed to grow amazing fruit in our lives.
Dr. Adrian Rogers says it so well: Guilt imprisons us. Bitterness poisons us. Forgiveness is the answer.
Forgiveness is the key to cultivating soil that will receive the seeds God has for us in His word; seeds of truth, of life, of hope, of peace. Perhaps the tears that often come in the process of forgiving are God’s way of softening our hearts and preparing the soil of our souls.
Forgiveness doesn’t just mean forgiving others, it often requires forgiving ourselves; and it always requires recognizing that we too have said and done things that need to be forgiven.
Forgiveness is impossible in and of ourselves; it is one of those things that makes no sense by the worlds standards but somehow, someway, by the power of the Spirit of the Living God working in our lives we find the strength that it takes to recognize our sin for what it is. When we are willing to ask God for forgiveness, made possible by the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us (before I even took my first breath!) He gives us the tools to forgive ourself and others. As His Holy Spirit begins to work in us and thru us the soil of our souls is worked up, cultivated, plowed, and softened; ready to receive the amazing seed that God has ready and waiting to grow in us. The harvest it yields is referred to as fruit in the Bible “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Wow, those fruits sound like something to be enjoyed! Tasty, juicy, sweet, and healthy; they are fruits that are meant to be shared.
So how’s the soil of your soil? Is it teachable; ready to receive seed and grow an abundant harvest?
Yes, good soil is usually the result of some hard work – but healthy growth is worth the effort!
Until next time…