Rooted or Shallow?

by Jo Umberger

“A farmer went out to sow his seed . . . Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root . . . The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” Matthew 13:3, 5, 6, 20-21

What does the writer mean when he uses the word “root” in verse 21? Thayers Greek Lexicon explains that the word is “spoken of one who has but a superficial experience of divine truth, has not permitted it to make its way into the inmost recesses of his soul” 1

So the practical question becomes, “Have I allowed the divine truth into the innermost depths of my soul?”

Whew. What a question!

What steps can we take to allow His truth deep into our souls?

Perhaps we can begin by asking ourselves how we respond during trouble. If we are not obedient during “everyday” kinds of troubles, are we likely to stand fast if real trouble (such as persecution) comes as a result of our being a Christian?

Likely, the answer is no. We are not likely to stand firm during persecution if we don’t stand firm while facing simpler troubles.

“Everyday troubles” can be challenging. Not having the money we think we need. Illness. Emotional difficulties. Relationship struggles. Situations such as these can divert our attention from the Lord. Depending on our PERCEPTION of the difficulty, we may even stop depending on the Lord, or worse — walk away from Him.

If this is true, how much more likely are we to deny Him when trouble or persecution comes because of our belief in Him? Even as recently as this year, we have heard news of Christians been killed because of their faith.

Any Christian could face trouble for being a Christian, although it is not likely that every Christian will have extreme hardships. This leads us to two question for all of us.

  1. Are we willing to speak the name of Jesus or talk about Christianity at work, or in the community, among those who may not believe in Jesus?
  2. If we say we are willing, do we follow through?

Here is one way to start the process. Doing a good deed for someone who doesn’t know Jesus is a practical way to show them the kind of love Jesus offers. This can lead to opportunities to share with them how God has worked in our lives. By building trust with them, they are more likely to share their troubles with us. In my experience, this is the point at which they are most likely to be open to reading the Word of God with a Christian, which can lead to a Bible study about how to become a Christian. Not only does this help the person who has not been following Jesus, but this process can strengthen the Christian’s faith as well!

When our faith is strengthened, we are more likely to stand firm in the midst of trials.


  1. Do you believe that witnessing about God’s love and sharing the Gospel with others strengthens the Christian’s faith in the innermost depths of our souls?
  2. What other areas of service have strengthened your faith in the past?
  3. What are some examples of situations that lead to a weak faith?
  4. What daily and weekly habits do we need to strengthen our faith?
  5. What daily and weekly habits do we need to help one another have a strong faith?

All Scriptures quoted are from the New International Version.

1 Thayers Greek Lexicon. Retrieved 6/24/22

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