Bible writers frequently use agrarian metaphors to teach spiritual truths – vineyards, seeds, trees, wheat, plowing, planting, reaping. It’s not difficult for even a non-gardener type like me to see the spiritual connection. Hosea gives us this message:
“Plant the good seeds of righteousness,
and you will harvest a crop of love.
Plow up the hard ground of your hearts,
for now is the time to seek the LORD,
that he may come and shower righteousness
upon you.” (Hosea 10:12 NLT)
We live in a nice little housing development – you know the kind – where the houses are so close to each other you can see in each other’s windows. However, to our west is a wide-open field that has not been mowed in over a year. At the height of the summer season, the weeds – blackberry bushes, nettles, thistles and the like – were over 6 feet tall. I have a dream that the owner will come in, clear away the brush and weeds and till up the soil and plant trees, or maybe create a community garden. I can dream, can’t I?
Hosea is not talking about literal ground here of course – he’s talking about hearts. However, the principle is the same. Leave a field unplowed, uncultivated and empty and it will soon be overrun with weeds. Leave a heart unplowed, uncultivated and empty and it will produce the blackberry vines of unforgiveness, the stinging nettles of bitterness, the thistles of doubt, and the morning glory vines of fear.
If you’ll allow me, I’d like to re-organize this verse a bit.
First – Seek the Lord.
Hardness of heart is a by-product of a life devoid of the presence of the Lord and the softening agent of the Holy Spirit. Draw near to Him. Seek Him with your whole heart.
Second – Plow up the hard ground of your heart.
It starts with a good honest look at what is happening in your heart. When you identify the bitterness, the unforgiveness, the doubt and fear and repent, the Holy Spirit can come in and till up the hard ground of your heart and get it ready for planting good seed.
Third – Plant the seeds of righteousness.
Paul warned the Galatians, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal. 6:7 NIV) If you want unfailing love, you must sow righteousness.
Fourth – Soak in the rain of God’s righteousness.
Let it keep your heart soft so the seeds of righteousness will germinate and grow.
Finally – Enjoy the harvest!
A bumper crop of love is a harvest worth savoring and sharing.
How will you begin to “plow up the ground of your heart?”
Vicki Judd is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God in the Northwest Ministry Network. In May of 2013, she graduated from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary with a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry. Vicki’s passion to teach God’s Word has provided opportunities for her to speak for women’s groups and churches all over the Northwest. She and her husband live in Washington where they enjoy spending time with their family.