Reading time: 3 minutes
Parable of the Sower
In Matthew 13, Jesus shares the Parable of the Sower. Jesus used the parable to speak about a person’s receptivity to God’s words. Let’s consider how God’s words apply to marriage. The four types of soil in the parable match up with four types of relationships.
On the Path: Conflicted Couple
Jesus makes it clear that the path is literally the hardest place to be. In marriage, when both people’s hearts are hard, look out, because they will either tear each other apart, or be so disengaged that no relationship exists. Either way, the result is a barren (unfruitful) relationship. An infertile, hardened heart will likely result in divorce. In Mark 10:1-12, Jesus explains that divorce is not God’s intention, but was permitted because of hardened hearts.
Jesus says the seed sown along the path is like someone hearing the words, but having no understanding. The ground is so hard – the seed cannot penetrate – so growth cannot begin. There is no life. This couple may be together only by habit and convenience. If this couple has not already given up, they are in danger of separation, divorce, or some type of extra-marital affair.
On the Rocks: Careless Couple
This couple has experienced their relationship as easy so far. This type of relationship usually starts off quickly (received with joy) and may even appear to be thriving (shoots up quickly). This couple acts too quickly without considering if they can finish what they started; they act without really understanding.
This couple is unaware of the complexity of a relationship, which tends to propel the couple to seek the benefits of marriage before building a foundation to sustain the benefits. This impatience may show up, for example, as a financial crisis (debt) or as a pregnancy before marriage. Overall the couple is faced with the serious responsibilities of marrige before they are mature enough to resolve the complications. The complications then become crisises.
Among the Thorns: Choking Couple
This couple has the right idea, but they execute poorly. Intimacy between the couple is blocked or stalled. The couple has a high regard for marriage, but remains disconnected for lack of translating beliefs into action. It is like having a car in good working order, but no fuel. The marriage is also characterized by a lack of emotion and expressiveness.
The couple is distracted by worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth. There is a strangle-hold on the marriage – choking it and making it unfruitful. While the potential is high, this couple has allowed too many weeds to grow in the garden of their marriage. The marital relationship is last on a long list of other things now more interesting.
In Good Soil: Cooperating Couple
This couple is both mature (having a high regard for marriage) and experienced (having acted out their convictions). Marriages are not born this way; they must be created, first through inspiration, then through perspiration.
Connection follows from belief. If the marriage vision is not renewed and revisited regularly, complacency can set in. Every couple is susceptible to the deterioration of their relationship. To prevent this, they must regularly refresh their understanding of why they are doing what they are doing. They must have an answer to: “Why is the struggle worth it?” This couple will not drift as long as they continue to act on their beliefs.
Where are You?
As no person is perfect, no marriage is perfect. No matter which soil condition more closely describes your relationship, set your goal to increase your knowledge of marriage God’s way and then increase your practice of marriage. When you do this, you will be well on your way to yielding fruit one-hundred times what was sown.
But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.