The Good Heart

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Good Heart Parable

Sunday 08/20/23

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The Good Heart

We have been studying Jesus’ parable of the heart soils for several weeks now and have finally arrived at the good heart.

The first three hearts are given as a type of self-diagnostic. To help us identify tendencies of heart which work against the Kingdom and hinder our maturity into Christ’s image. 

We know of course that such was not the intention of the parable when Jesus taught it to Jews under the old covenant, but it is how it can be applied to those who have entered the Kingdom of God by faith in Jesus.

If we were to summarize the first three hearts in relational terms we’d say… 

  1. The Wayside Heart is like someone who is disinterested & distant. 
  2. The Stony Heart is someone who only entertains relationships for what they can get out of it. 
  3. The Thorny Heart is the Laodicean heart. They have let the flame die down due to distractions, and interest in other things. 

In short all of these people would make terrible friends and marriage partners. 

So what makes for a good heart? 

Let’s read what Jesus said both in the parable and in His description of them. 

Matthew 13:8,9

“(8)  But other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.  

(9)  The one who has ears had better listen!”

Luke 8:8,9

“(8)  But other seed fell on good soil and grew, and it produced a hundred times as much grain.” 

As He said this, He called out, “The one who has ears to hear had better listen!”

Mark 4:8,9

“(8)  But other seed fell on good soil and produced grain, sprouting and growing; some yielded thirty times as much, some sixty, and some a hundred times.”  (9)  And He said, “Whoever has ears to hear had better listen!”

Jesus’ explanation of the Good heart…

Matt. 13:23, “But the one sown on the good ground–this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times what was sown.”

Luke 8:15, “But the seed in the good ground–these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, bear fruit.”

Mark 4:20, “But the ones sown on good ground are those who hear the word, welcome it, and produce a crop: 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown.”

So the one thing all the hearts have in common is that they first HEAR the message of the Kingdom.

From that point on things begin to differ. 

  • The Wayside Heart did nothing more.
  • The Stony Heart immediately received it with joy and gladness.
  • The Thorny Heart heard and then went their way retaining in their hearts the message spoken.

This heart – the Good Heart is not said to receive it with joy or gladness, but with understanding. They comprehended the message.

This is NOT to say that receiving the message of the kingdom with joy and gladness isn’t a good thing, it simply is not a necessary thing. The Stony Heart, was a flighty heart, a fickle heart. One that probably fell in and out of love several times a day. Nothing truly sticks in the Stony Heart. They follow flights of fancy. Responding with heightened exuberance is almost part and parcel with this heart. Being shallow and self-serving however, they easily tire of  new interests, especially when they discover that something is required out of them which they do not want to give and such is the message of the Kingdom. What it offers is valuable indeed, but what it requires is also valuable.

This Good Heart HEARS and UNDERSTANDS the message.

That means FIRST that it was given that power by God.

As 1 Corinthians 2:11 says, “no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”

This is a Lydia heart to which God “gave the power to pay attention” to the words spoken by Paul.

The Holman translation says, “The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.”Acts 16:14 

So if the only way hearing can help a person is if they understand, and the only way they can understand is if God reveals it to them, then why does the fault lie with the hearer?

Well, like Cornelius who God sent Peter to with the message of the Kingdom, Lydia was ALREADY a worshiper of God. Paul met Lydia who was attending and perhaps even leading a woman’s prayer meeting down by the riverside on the Sabbath. Cornelius was a prayer, a worshiper and a giver to the Jewish people.

This person in Jesus’ parable is said to have an “honest heart”. The word “honest” carries the meaning of having a good conscience, which comes from attempting to live honestly – NOT TO BE SEEN or to JUSTIFY THEMSELF, but out of conscience towards God.

So one thing which clearly opens the door for God to open the heart is being an honest, sincere seeker of God. Like Jesus promised “…those who seek WILL find…, those who knock the door will be opened…, those who are hungry will be filled!” 

Something which is important to know here is that the word “good” as applied to a person in an ancient context, describes an ethical person who possesses integrity. 

So upon hearing the message of the Kingdom, they respond with integrity. Meaning they don’t just see its value, they respond to it as something valuable!

Which nicely introduces the next quality of this heart which is that they “welcomed” the message. 

Now two of the other hearts welcomed it as well, but this heart did so with understanding and thus integrity.

The Good Heart understood that to enter the Kingdom requires a commitment of life and resources, a need to seek the good of king and kingdom first – above their own interests AND a requirement to surrender and submit to the authority of the King.

It is easy enough to welcome the message of the Kingdom if all you see is Disneyworld in front of you complete with castles, bustling streets filled with happy people. But to do so knowing the cost and still welcoming the message reveals a heart that values what is truly valuable.

This attribute of valuing the Kingdom enough to surrender your all to have it, Jesus describes in two other parables. 

Matthew 13:44-46, (44) The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field, that a person found and hid. Then because of joy he went and sold all that he had and bought that field.  

(45)  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  (46)  When he found a pearl of great value, he went out and sold everything he had and bought it.”

The next attribute mentioned by Jesus in His parable was that they “held on to it”. The New English translation says, “clung to it”.

That word “cling” speaks of a tenacity, like Jacob who though losing the wrestling match with God, would not let Him go, but clung to Him tightly requiring a blessing. As we know this is a heart attribute which God loves. It was the basis for His love and pursuit of Jacob and His open disdain of his brother Esau, who treated the things of God lightly.

Finally the obvious thing which makes this heart stand out among the others (other than being called Good by Jesus) is that this Good Heart produces fruit. The final attribute of this heart is HOW it that process of bearing fruit happens. It is in fact one of the major differences between this heart and the ThornyHeart.

The New English translation does a good job of drawing this out so I will read it to you.

Luke 8:15, “But as for the seed that landed on good soil, these are the ones who, after hearing the word, cling to it with an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with steadfast endurance.”

Patience and endurance are attributes which stand out in scripture as THE things which make the difference between spiritual success or failure.

Luke 21 shows us Jesus telling His disciples,

“(16) You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will have some of you put to death.  (17)  You will be hated by everyone because of My name.  (18)  Yet not a hair of your head will perish.  (19)  By your endurance you will gain your lives.”

Let’s read a few passages about the importance and necessity of patience and endurance.

Romans 5:1-5, “(1) Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  (2)  through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.  

(3)  Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  (4)  and endurance, approved character, and approved character, hope.  (5)  And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who was given to us.”

1 Timothy 6:10-14, “(10) For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains.  (11)  But you, as a person dedicated to God, keep away from all that. Instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, ENDURANCE, and gentleness.  (12)  Compete well for the faith and lay hold of that eternal life you were called for and made your good confession for in the presence of many witnesses.  (13)  I charge you before God who gives life to all things and Christ Jesus who made his good confession before Pontius Pilate,  (14)  to obey this command without fault or failure until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ

Hebrews 10:35-39, “(35) So do not throw away your confidence, because it has great reward.  (36)  For you need endurance in order to do God’s will and so receive what is promised.  (37)  For just a little longer and he who is coming will arrive and not delay.  (38)  But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I take no pleasure in him.  (39)  But we are not among those who shrink back and thus perish, but are among those who have faith and preserve their souls.”

James 1:2-4, “(2) My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials,  (3)  because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  (4)  And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.”

Romans 15:5, “Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus,”

So the Good Heart is a productive heart and a productive heart is a heart that values the message of the Kingdom enough to endure with patience until the image of Jesus is formed and perfected within it. 

As you know “bearing fruit” can be said and illustrated in many ways and in fact is said and illustrated in many ways in scripture.

When we speak of the heart producing a harvest, we are speaking of the inroads of the kingdom of God in our hearts and lives.

  • In Romans it is called producing the likeness of Jesus. 
  • In Romans and Philippians it is being conformed to His image.
  • In Romans it is also referred to NOT being CONFORMED to this world but being TRANSFORMED by the renewing of our minds.
  • In Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Hebrews and James it is bearing fruit.

…and the list goes on…but one thing is clear, bearing fruit is 100% necessary to salvation and continuing to bear fruit which remains glorifies God.

John 15:7-8, “(7) If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you.  (8)  My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are My disciples.”

Now in closing I think it would be beneficial to go back over the things we must be mindful of regarding the message of the Kingdom.  

Next week we will probably move on to John 15 to build upon our understanding of the Good Heart.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!