“How’s the condition of your heart?” What would happen if you asked that question as an icebreaker before your next study? What if you asked it before a conversation with your kid? What if you asked yourself, “What’s the condition of this person’s heart right now?” even before sharing the gospel with someone?

I love the story Jesus told about a farmer scattering seed (Mark 4). Only those planted in the good, fertile soil can truly surrender to God’s will. The conditions of the others’ hearts–hardened, shallow, overwhelmed–don’t allow the gospel to take root. Those folks may believe in facts about Jesus; they may accept him as the savior they need. But they have not surrendered to him–he is not Lord and Leader of their lives.

Whether leading a small group or leading a person to Christ, do I first check the condition of their hearts? What a great disservice I’m doing to them–and the Kingdom–if I ignore the condition of the heart that the seed of the gospel is being planted into.

The Holy Spirit cultivates and changes people’s hearts. Remember, no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). But he also uses us in that process. He does his work in real, healthy community. He uses our stories. He uses our leadership (follow my example as I follow the example of Christ–1 Corinthians 11:1). He uses us as his ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). He uses our prayers.
This morning I prayed for several of my friends who have not yet surrendered to Christ, and then I also prayed a similar prayer for several members of our small group. I asked God to work on their hearts, to loosen up the ground, remove the rocks and weeds, fertilize it (make it fertile) so that his seed can take root and flourish.

By the way, How’s the condition of your heart today?

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Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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