Keep Your Heart Soft!
Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you (Hosea 10:12).
Fallow ground is unproductive, untilled ground. When I was young my dad bought some land far away from city life and built a house there. There were fields with various kinds of produce surrounding my house. One field sat unplowed for a long time. The government land bank program paid the farmer to allow it to lie fallow or unproductive.
The ground in this unplowed field had a thin crust over it that made it difficult for water to permeate. When it rained, the water simply ran off into the lowest place. Weeds grew in abundance there.
I noticed that when the farmers would plant crops in an adjoining field, some of the seed would be thrown over into this fallow field. The seed never germinated because the ground was so hard. It just lay on top of the soil and produced nothing.
Jesus mentioned four types of heart soil where the seed of the Word is planted. In Mark 4 He mentioned wayside, stony, thorny, and good ground. Fallow ground is much like the wayside, stony, and thorny ground.
Hosea was encouraging Israel to break up their fallow ground or to allow the Word to penetrate their hearts. And it is wise for us to check up on the condition of the soil of our hearts, and make sure that our ground is not fallow.
Sin in all its varying forms: unforgiveness, pride, self-centeredness, lust, gossip, and refusing to walk in love are a few ways that our heart soil can become fallow. The word just won’t produce fruit under these conditions. And the Holy Spirit’s voice is easily “muffled,” just like water rolling off fallow ground!
Breaking up fallow ground involves allowing the Father through the Word and the Holy Spirit to show us areas of disobedience, confessing it, and then forsaking it. Repentance plows the soil of the human heart and allows the Word to germinate. And then spiritual growth occurs.
Here’s how I break up the ground of my heart. First, I find a quiet place with no one else around. It may be a long walk or a room in my home where I am alone. Then, I spend some time reading the word. Read John 15 where Jesus talks about us being a branch of the vine. Or, read Psalm 139 where God is mentioned as being engaged and totally involved in my life and circumstances. Or, maybe even read Colossians 3 where Paul encourages us to seek God above all else and forsake carnal, fleshly living.
Then, I begin praying, thanking God for my salvation from sin. I spend some time thanking Him for being involved in my life through the years, for keeping me healthy, strong, and mentally whole. Then, I invite Him into my heart life, and ask Him to show me any areas where I have allowed sinful thoughts, words, or actions to cloud my life and harden my heart towards Him. I ask Him to show me any areas of disobedience to Him.
Psalm 90:8 in the Amplified Bible is so good here: Our iniquities, our secret heart and its sins [which we would so like to conceal even from ourselves], You have set in the [revealing] light of Your countenance.
As things come to me that I know are wrong, I confess them to the Father, knowing that He will forgive me and act towards me just as though I had never done wrong. If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action] - 1 John 1:9 - Amplified Bible.
Usually, the Father will bring a few things up to me, and then let me deal with them in repentance and confession. God is so good about not overwhelming us with too much at once. He is a gentle Father!
This practice of getting alone with God is so important today. We are surrounded continually with so many negative things that tend to leach onto us. Time with God is like taking a spiritual bath and becoming refreshed again!
If you’ve noticed weeds growing in your life; sins that easily trip you up, or if you notice a hardness in your attitude towards others, then let me encourage you to take Hosea’s advice and do some spiritual plowing. Your hunger for God and spiritual things will return. The results will be that the seed of the Word you read will more easily germinate and grow in you and then the Word will speak to you throughout your day. And you will begin to produce a harvest of godly choices as you go through your day. How is your heart soil today?