I used to spend a lot of time and money studying the Bible.

I have professional Bible study software with thousands of dollars of resources, I can parse biblical languages, I can look up historical and cultural contexts for passages. I am a graduate from an internationally renown seminary. Yet these days, I don’t really put the energy into doing this anymore.

Why not?

It starts from understanding how people grow spiritually and change. And that starts from understanding how Jesus taught about how people grow and change.

In the parable of the four soils (Mark 4:1-20), Jesus talks about the four soils which represent people’s hearts. The word of God is planted in all four of them (the path, the rocks, the weeds, the good soil) but only one bears fruit (the good soil)

Note what what the parable isn’t talking about.

The emphasis on the parable isn’t on the seed. It isn’t exploring what’s inside the seed, what other farmer used it. It isn’t on whether it’s organic or inorganic. People think growing is focusing and parsing the seed. People think that if we can just understand the seed more we can grow spiritually in God.

It doesn’t work like that.

The emphasis of the parable is on the quality of the soil. In other words, the potency of the Bible is limited by the quality of our hearts.

For no matter how amazing and great the seed is, our hearts has everything that would choke its potency. There is busyness in our hearts, there is hurry, there is bitterness, and anger. All of these suck out what the Bible was meant to do in us.

It’s not that I don’t value studying the Bible and going deep. It’s just that I’m seeing the wisdom of Jesus that the condition of the heart is more important.

As a result, these amazing Bible tools, while valuable, are less used by me these days. Rather, I spend most of my time reading the Bible figuring out how my heart is receiving it. I want to see how my spirit responds to God’s word so that I know whether it will plant correctly. I need to clear the weeds so that even the simplest of words can bear fruit.

How about you?

Are you making space for God’s word to land deeply in your heart?