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Here is the parable in the King James Version of the New Testament:
3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
And here is the interpretation that Jesus gave:
18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Bruce R. McConkie called it the Parable of the Four Kinds of Soil. The seed is the word of God. It is same in each case, but the soil is different. We are the soil. Some soil is receptive, and some is not. Some soil is productive, and some is not.
Jesus knew that not everyone who heard His gospel would be ready to accept it. For some it would have no place in their heart at all. For others it would seem like a good thing at first, but in time they would become offended and reject it.
The third group has been of most interest to me, probably because I feel I may fall into this category. The word finds a place in their heart; they accept the word with gladness. But, there is strong competition from worldly cares. These cares stunt the growth of the seed in their hearts, and could eventually stop the growth altogether.
The fourth group is what I aspire to. I have noticed, in any neighborhood or congregation, there are always a few valiant families and individuals who stand out as examples of true disciples. Their focus on the gospel and mission of Jesus Christ has a very positive effect on others. They are catalysts for activity. They serve as the glue to bind others together in the spirit of service. They are always volunteering, always encouraging. They don’t stop at good intentions. They follow through. They understand the sacrifices required to be true disciples, and they don’t let the cares of the world keep them from reaching their potential.
Soil can be improved, and I think it is our responsibility to improve where we can. Today we may not be where we would like to be, but with continual improvement, we can get there.