Trials and difficulties separate trees or plants with deep roots from those with shallow roots, or worse, no roots at all. Jesus took a parable addressed to the crowd and explained it in more detail to His disciples so they would “understand with their hearts” (Matthew 13:15) its real significance. Notice Jesus’ explanation carefully:
“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.” (Matthew 13:20–21).
Let’s put two things together in this parable, that are necessary for understanding the lesson. The “seed” is the gospel message which the Sower spreads as he goes. The “root in himself” is the inner response to the gospel message through repentance, contrition and humility. Where there is “no root”, there is an immediate outward response to the message which looks good for a short time until “tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word”. You can be certain that those who ‘profess faith in Christ’ will at some point be tested by the truth of the gospel and its claims on our minds and life.
If there is “no root in himself”, the person is unable to take the word of the gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to internally transform the life into one that is fruit bearing. Times of testing very quickly reveal how deep our root structure is, and whether change taking place through the power of God’s Word is taken into the heart. Paul says, “But you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear” (Romans 11:20). “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13). This is the opposite of “falling away”!
This raises two questions: 1) What is being revealed about your life by the tests you go through?
2) Are you “falling away” under the pressure of trials and persecution?
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