Bear Fruit with Patience

Noticing this morning that one of these things is not like the other.

Hovering over Luke’s account of Jesus’ telling of the parable of the sower. Pretty familiar story. Easy to skim because of the familiarity. But for some reason (a Holy Spirit reason?) two words catch my eye at the end of Luke’s record of Jesus’ words. So, I go back to the other gospel accounts to refresh my memory of how Matthew and Mark relay the parable. And what do I notice? One of these things is not quite like the other.

Here’s how the three gospel writers record what Jesus said about the good soil:

“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

(Matthew 13:23 ESV)

“But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

(Mark 4:20 ESV)

“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”

(Luke 8:15 ESV)

With patience. Oh man! The “P” word again. That’s what caught my eye and is exercising my heart.

I can get pretty jazzed by the prospect of thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. Let’s do it! Lord, You plant the word. Spirit, water it through illumination, instruction, and conviction as you lead me into truth. And Father, according to Your abundant grace, give it the increase. Let’s reap a harvest for Your glory. Thirty, sixty, maybe even a hundredfold.

But be patient? Endure? Persevere? Wait steadfastly? Sigh . . .

The “good soil” is an “honest” heart, a noble heart that openly receives the word. Of such a disposition that it is ready to agree with the word rather than force the word to agree with it. Ready to be encouraged by the word, corrected by the word, even cut by the word. Willing to be shaped by the word. It is a “good” heart. Upright, ready to fulfill duty, free from guile. It is the new heart of regeneration. The heart of Christ beating within the souls of men and women redeemed by His blood. That’s the heart that bears much fruit from the sown seed of the word.

But it is also a heart that “holds fast” the word. Not only taking possession of the word and owning the word but holding on for dear for life when circumstance or season would tempt one to let go of the word. A two-fisted determination to cling to the word. Wanting to bear fruit. Ready to bear fruit with patience.

Honestly, I’d like things to be easier sometimes. I’d love for me to be more sanctified sometimes. I’d love to see more of the fruit sometimes. But I’m not called to count the crop, I’m called to bear fruit with patience. To be faithful.

Faithful to pursuing the word. Faithful to keeping clear the clutter of sin and distraction so the word can pursue me. Faithful to engage in the “sow and reap” economy of the kingdom of God by the word.

. . . the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

(Galatians 6:8b-9 ESV)

Hold fast to the word. Be patient and you’ll bear fruit according to the word.

Yes, Lord.

By Your grace. For Your glory.

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