Most Christians have a burning desire to be controlled by the Spirit of God. This burning desire has the same effect on us that fire has on gold: It purifies.
When a goldsmith removes impurity from gold, he heats a small amount of the precious metal until it liquefies. The heat brings the impurities to the surface to be skimmed off. Once the impurities have been removed, the goldsmith can see his own reflection clear and unhindered in the gold. Hebrews 12:29 tells us, “For our God is a consuming fire.”
As God’s Spirit moves in our lives, He begins to draw us into closer fellowship. That’s when the areas that have prevented our spiritual progress will begin to come to light. Not in a condemning way, but with the hope that God will gently skim them from our lives in order to allow His reflection to be seen in us. This process requires our full cooperation.
The outcome will be a refining of our lives and progress toward success in everything we undertake. Isaiah 40:6-7 describes this in such a beautiful way:
“All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely people are like grass.”
As the breath of God blows upon our lives, the areas that seemed beyond control will begin to wither and lose strength. But His “breath” will come only with our cooperation and our obedience to God’s promptings.
One very vital key to true spiritual progress is found in the parable of the sower and the seed. In Matthew, chapter 13, Jesus clearly reveals the supreme principle of the Kingdom of God: the principle of “seed planting.”
The Word of God is the seed of the kingdom which can produce His will in our lives. This parable not only reveals the ability of God’s Word to produce in us, but it also reveals the importance of the soil.
The four types of soil mentioned represent the varied conditions of the human heart. The first type of soil is ground by the wayside, meaning a pathway. It is impenetrable. When the seed of God’s Word is planted, it cannot break through because the ground is hard.
People become hardened for very understandable reasons. Like the pathway, they are hardened because they have been walked on. Perhaps it was the abuse of their parents or just one hard knock in life after another. Maybe a failed personal relationship or the rejection from a loved one has caused a protective wall to develop, preventing anyone from doing damage again. Whatever the reason, they have built within themselves a resistance to vulnerability.
Though this may be a reason for hardness, it is not an excuse. The destructive effect of this hardness is not only isolation from people but insensitivity to God. They have lost the ability to sift out the bad and retain the good. Everything is resisted for the sake of protection.
We must resist hardness of heart. People will undoubtedly let us down, but we cannot let that sour our feelings. We must allow God’s love to keep us open to people and to Him. We must see beyond their failures and refuse to allow our hearts to become hardened.