Monday, April 14, 2008

Pathway People - For the Birds

The first part of Phillip Keller’s book “A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit”, looks at the different types of soil from the parable of the sower in Luke 8:4-15.

The first type of soil is what Keller calls “Pathway” soil. It is the soil trodden by thousands of passers-by that had become hard as brick, solid as cement, and impervious to the thrusting young roots of any seed sown upon it. Such ground was good only for the birds. There they quickly spotted the seed lying bare and exposed. It was easy to fly down and snatch it away. The end result was bareness. Jesus said some of our lives were like that soil. He called us “Pathway People.” The garden of our lives had, in places, been beaten hard as rock by the passing to and fro of other people and influences in our experience.

For all of us there are certain people and influences that beat a path through our lives. All can harden our hearts in such a way that there is little or no response to the Word of God which may have been planted there. Here are some of them:

  1. Our friends and associates. It may well be asked, “Who are the people who most frequently pound a path through my life?” “What sort of impact do they make upon my mind?” “Are they hardening me against God?” These are perfectly proper and appropriate questions which we need to face. Often, quite unknown to ourselves, our souls are being set against the very One who tends us with such loving attention.
  2. The literature that we read and the TV programs we watch. What sort of books do I read? What kind of magazines, journals and newspapers do I digest? What type of television or radio programs do I follow? The decisions as to what I shall allow my mind, emotions, will, and spirit to be exposed to rest with me.
  3. The music we listen to constantly. It may come as somewhat of a shock to some readers to discover that the wrong sort of music can harden us against God. Many kinds of music are highly commendable. Yet at the same time there is hard, harsh music that depicts and reflects the fierce emotions and passionate despair of men in darkness. If allowed to do so, it can beat its way into the very personality of people. One of its most insidious dangers is that it distracts men and women from the things of God’s Spirit.
  4. The pursuit of pleasure. Pleasures of so many sorts can become an obsession. They tyrannize our time and dominate our days. Their constant demands upon us begin to beat a path through the brief span of our little lives. Such pleasures command so much of our thought, energy, and means that those areas they control are land in our lives lost to God. If the resources devoted to pleasure were given over instead to Christ’s interests in the world, we would indeed be amazed.
  5. Our personal ambitions. Ambition of the right sort – putting God first in all of our affairs – seeking above all else to please Him while serving others – is a powerful implement in the hand of God for producing rich fruit in our lives and the lives of others. But by the same measure the individual with strong personal ambitions of self-centeredness is soon set against God. Any ambition established deep within our wills becomes the polestar of our daily decisions. All else becomes secondary, even Christ’s claims upon us.
  6. Our private thought life. Perhaps more often than anything else, the ground of our persistent old thought patterns is the toughest soil God has ever had to tackle. Some of us harbor places where unforgiven grudges and grievances have hardened against others across the years. In some lives belligerence, animosity, and ill will have beaten a trail through our thinking for so long that not a single good seed dropped there by the Gracious Spirit of God can ever grow. Only the deepest convicting work of God’s Gracious Spirit in the soul can begin to alter such tough soil. And until that happens no fruit of godliness can come from that ground.
The ultimate question simply is: “Do I or don’t I want to be a ‘pathway person’? Will I allow the Master’s footprints to enrich the soil of my soul? Or do I prefer to let worldly ways harden my soul against His good plan for my life?”

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