FOUR CATEGORIES OF PEOPLE
RELATED TO THE GROWTH OF LIFE
In Mark 4 the Lord Jesus Himself illustrated very clearly that there are four kinds of people related to the growth in life. The Lord’s illustration shows us what kind of person can have the proper growth in life. The Lord revealed that He is both the Sower and the seed (vv. 3, 14). He is the Sower who came to sow Himself as the seed into human beings. But these humans beings are categorized into four classes of people.
The first category of people is like the wayside (v. 15). This refers to a place close to the way. It is hardened by the traffic of the way; thus, it is difficult for the seed of life to penetrate it. This is a picture of a person who is close to the world, with much worldly traffic within him. This means that his heart has been hardened by worldly traffic. Some of us have too much traffic with this world. This makes it hard for the seed of life to get into us. The seed sown beside the way can be snatched away by the birds, who signify Satan as the evil bird in the air who right away comes to snatch away the word from the hardened heart (vv. 4, 15). You may listen to the word, and yet there may be no opening within you because your heart is hardened like the wayside. Of course, if this is the case, life cannot grow within you.
The Stony Ground
The second category is the stony ground (vv. 5-6). The soil seems soft, but underneath are some hidden rocks. Our heart is quite deceitful. Sometimes even we ourselves do not understand what is hidden underneath in our heart (Jer. 17:9). There may be something impure hidden within us. Apparently, we are good for the word; we are seeking the Lord and are for the Lord’s move, but something as a stone may be hidden underneath within us as an impure motive, intention, purpose, or desire.
Throughout the years I have seen many young people come into the church life. Apparently, they were so seeking and good, but there was a kind of motive hidden in their heart. You may be seeking Christ apparently, but actually something may be hidden in your heart. When you gain what you want, you will be very happy and praise the Lord. But if you are not successful in that aim, you will be disappointed and want to give up the church life. Then there is no growth because there is no root. Deep within the heart there may be rocks, which can be hidden sins, personal desires, self-seeking, and self-pity, which hinder the seed from taking root in the depths of the heart. Then when the sun comes with its scorching heat, signifying affliction or persecution, the seed withers because it has no root (Mark 4:6, 16-17). You may come into the church life with something hidden, with a certain aim, ambition, or desire. After a while you may have the deep sensation that you have failed in your aim. Then when any kind of affliction comes, this will become a deathblow to the growth of the seed within you.
(The Fulfillment of God's Purpose by the Growth of Christ in Us, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)