Here's an excerpt from my recent sermon on The Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.....
Here’s what is scary. A lot of us hear the parable of the sower, and because we’ve heard it before, or because we’ve been going to church for a while, or because our parents go to church and have a Bible in the home, we automatically default into thinking that we are the good soil without ever stepping back and asking, “Is my life bearing fruit?” This is a critical question. Jesus said twice in Matthew 3 and in Matthew 7, that every tree that does not bear fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.”
So, get out your mental paper and pen and checklist. I’m going to read through a list of questions. I want you to think about these questions and assess yourself to see if you are growing in faith. This isn't going to be one of those funny, youth group story time moments. It is actually going to be more like a colonoscopy for you heart. Uncomfortable, a little scary, and not a blast for the doctor either, but important because it is potentially life saving.
We're going to take a few moments to examine ourselves. Ask the Holy Spirit to come and reveal to you the things in your life that you need to hand over to him, the ways in which you are failing to bear the fruit of God in your life.
1. Is my language consistent with the kind of language that pleases God and brings him honor, or do I use my words to cut others down, to speak harshly, to be profane and vulgar, or minimize the honor of God’s name?
2. Am I concerned with the approval of men or the approval of God? What motivates my behavior? Am I obsessed with being popular, having a boyfriend or girlfriend, impressing my teachers, or having everyone like me? In what ways am I tempted to compromise my values?
3. How do I treat the people around me and in authority over me? Do I respect and obey my parents even when I disagree? Do I show love and concern for my siblings and help them out however I can joyfully and not begrudgingly? Would teachers, coaches, administrators, and bosses say I am a delight and an asset to the school, team or job...or would they say I am difficult, trouble, and disrespectful or unreliable?
4. How do I spend my free time and my money? Does God get what is leftover after I have spent money on myself? Do I give God the leftover time of the day for prayer and Bible reading, or does God get the first and best time of the day? Would be ready and willing to live sacrificially or do you only give to God when you can and then still maintain your comfort levels?
5. Where does my mind go when it wanders? Do I think about God, who he is, how he loves me, how I can love him and serve him and give him glory, or do I think about FaceBook, Twitter, being with my friends, and all the concerns of my life?
6. Do acts of injustice and foolishness, sexual immorality, abortion, prejudice, starvation and malnutrition, unreached people groups, persecution of Christians, and others societal sins that Scripture speaks of - do they bother me or am I participating in their normalization either actively or by my silence?
7. Am I ever truly sorry for my sinfulness and the way I have offended God by my pride and selfishness and hardness of heart, or am I simply glad that I don’t have to pay the penalty for it and go to hell? Does God’s mercy and forgiveness lead to praise, or just a head nod of thanks?
8. Is there anything going on your life where you are dependent on your faith? Are you taking any risks, stretching yourself, do you really, honestly have any need for God in your life? How are you living that makes you any different from any other person?
We cannot assume we are good soil. We have to ask ourselves, regularly, “Has my relationship with God changed anything about the way I live?
"Is there any evidence in my life that I am connected to God, or am I pretty much like everyone else, except I go to church and youth group? Do I just blend in with everyone else at school and work or is there something different about the way I date, spend money, treat others, respond to authority, talk, and live?"