The Superficial Heart
“And some fell on stony ground where it had not much earth, and immediately it sprang up; because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground, who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time; afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended “.( Mk.4:5-6.16-17)
In considering this type of heart we need to closely examine the scripture quoted above to know its typical characteristic:
“…on stony ground”
The first characteristic feature of this kind of heart is that it is ‘on stony ground’. It is hard, rigid and tough. It struggles to maintain its own shape and form. It is pre-cast and inadaptable. It is not permeable. Its opinions are rigid. It does not absorb from the outsider; rather it forces its way to create an impression. It argues to have his way rather than submit to a simple instruction. It is always self-defensive. Even if you succeed in planting anything therein or any instruction, it may accept only for a time, but it does not go deep down. A man with such a heart says “Well, let me just keep quiet, but I have my own mind. There is no need for further argument lest I’m painted the black devil, but I know exactly what I’m going to do “. His heart situation is formed already. It is made-up. So, such a heart leaves little or no room for objective consideration or meditation. It is the direct opposite of meekness. A man with such a heart is full of himself and does not readily bend to anyone.
Naturally, every digging on a stony ground is with great difficulty. You need to exert force to penetrate or make any impact on it. So, much noise is made and a lot of dust is raised in the process. You can only carve on a stone; simple writing will not suffice and even then it is not visible. How is your heart? Does God need to struggle over and over again before a little change can occur in your life? Are you always in the attitude of self-defence? Do you only rejoice when you are heard and when your own opinion carries the day? Do you insist on your own preconceived ideas? Do you seek to bend even the bible to suit your peculiar opinion?
Are you teachable? Does it take so much effort, noise and emphasis to convince you to drop an idea? Are you so rigid in your mind? Could it be that up till now the stony heart is the one that lies under your breast? You need a circumcision of heart, don’t you?
“…not much earth”
Every seed requires moisture and some covering of soil before it can germinate. Too much sunshine and heat destroys a young plant trying to shoot out its roots. So every plant needs the cool, dark, and yet porous environment to develop which only the free, broken, ploughed soil can provide. Here again lies the problem of the superficial heart. It lacks much earth … it lacks the necessary depth, for the seed to at least hide to germinate. Everything is on the surface and is therefore exposed. His emotions are on the skin; his thoughts so shallow that it is not enough to provide any covering for the seed. No meditation on the word can be effectively sustained for any length of time. As it falls on it, it bounces back. It is like a reflective surface. The angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. The way the word falls on it, in the same way, with the same speed, it is reflected out and directed at someone else. No space for any storage or for any incubation.
“…and immediately, it sprang up because it had no depth of earth”.
You see, this is the deception about this kind of heart, it immediately springs forth. It is the first to come out, not because the process of growth, germination, root bearing, etc. had taken place, but because there is actually no room for the word to penetrate. No depth! So, no personal, internal effect has been created. It is a re-routing that most of the time takes place in this heart. When people with this type of heart hear a compelling message, they are eager to direct it at their spouse or someone else. They do not allow that word to penetrate and decay into their own system, then allow it to shoot forth as a stem with life-sap and green leaves, going through all the gradual processes of fruit bearing. Such a man is eager to affect others with the raw unbroken, yet-to-germinate seed, but not to let it affect his own life. He is loud and excited with another man’s experience, rather than with the practical outworking of God’s word in his own heart.
You can even be a minister with this kind of heart. Your experience, (internal, personal) is shallow, yet you are springing forth here and there. lf you receive a revelation of God’s word in your quiet time today you are likely to preach it the next day on the pulpit or write an article for a magazine with it. You preach what you have not proved, chewed on, and made to work in your life. You speak louder than the depth of your heart. Please note that this kind of heart can be very excited about every new revelation of God’s word. It is not because it has been given a chance to grow in his life, but that he can have more arrows to shoot at others. He can listen to several recorded messages just to appear knowledgeable. So Jesus said:
“He receives the word with gladness…”
“With gladness” not with trembling, not with contrition… He claps for the word; he shouts loud “Amens” and loud “Hallelujahs”, because he is thoughtless. He does not weigh the implication of what God is saying. He sees it most of the time the way others will go through it. He shields his heart from obedience and prefers to joke around the truth. But there is a grave, serious and definite implication the Word demands each time it comes to a man’s life. It seeks engrafting, (i.e. the cutting away of the native branch – the old nature) and the implanting (i.e. the imposition) of God’s counsel on our lives, no matter how painful. But the superficial heart does not weigh consequences; it does not count the cost before responding. Not necessarily with gladness must we receive the Word all the time. God’s word is not a gladiator: it is not an entertainer. It is the sword; it is fire; it is a hammer … Look at this! I don’t think the sword, the fire, and the hammer come to smile with anyone. But this is the major deception I see in many of our congregations today. Preachers are more or less entertainers, thereby making the word lose its desired effect. Check your heart my dear brother… Look inside, my beloved sister. How is your heart? You jump up for the Word but almost immediately throw it up (i.e. vomit it rather than belch after receiving it). Are you so superficial…?
“…have no root in themselves”
What a matter the Lord Jesus is dealing with here. They have no root in themselves. There is no basis or any inner source of strength. They are dependent on the outside. They look around and bow to whatever is convenient.
“They are sprung up…”
They are taller and longer than the roots that bear them. Look at plants that fall in this class: they are like maize, tomatoes, spinach etc. They shoot forth in three to five days after planting, but their stems are ever tiny, tender and without any strength. They bend to every wind: little storms uproot them. Too much rain washes them off. If the water level should rise above the normal, they get immediately choked up and turn yellowish. Too much fruits break the stem. Most of these plants survive only one time of harvest. Maize plant for instance is useless immediately you pluck off its first fruits.
Friends, are you shallow hearted? Are you a “maize” or “tomato” Christian? Have you really grown any deep tap-root that can stand the test of time? Does too much (sudden) blessing get you off your ground? Does any new environment change your convictions? Do you copy or follow every preacher that comes to town? Do you have any personal conviction based on your personal study of God’s word over the time that makes it difficult for any kind of doctrine to blow you off?
Do you have root in yourself? Are you sure of what you have come to believe in? Are you fully persuaded? Can you face any temptations, trials and afflictions because of your faith in the word of God and still remain intact? Are you rooted in God’s word? What you believed firmly (so we thought) five years ago what has happened to it now? When you changed environment, did your lifestyle also change? Are you an environmental Christian? Pray about this your heart now…
“…… and so endure but for a time; afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the Word’s sake, immediately they are offended”.
The superficial heart may stand with the Word, but only for a time. There is an end in view to the faith, the fire, and the fame of any believer with a superficial heart. He will soon become tired and disgusted. Wherever the Word of God truly penetrates, there must arise an affliction, a persecution and a reaction from the old nature, from the world system and from the devil. The scorching heat must come. Will you be able to persevere and endure with God’s word? In the face of opposition, will you stand faithfully with the Word of truth? No truth can be said to have been learnt until the hour of trial has come and gone and you are still holding the fort. Many there are today who are offended with the Word of God. According to them, it has disappointed them. What is the matter? It fell on the stony ground in the first place. No matter the initial zeal and gladness… except you develop a root in yourself, the Word will not bear any fruit in your life.