Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up the fallow ground. For it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
Break up the fallow ground. This is the emphasis of The Plow. We must allow God to prepare our hardened hearts to receive the seed of His Word and His commands to live the victorious Christian life. Let The Plow of God cut deep so the heart can receive the seed in its deepest parts, because we should desire deep and strong roots for our crops; the good fruit we desire. The heart can be hardened to God and hardened to others. The ground needs to be broken by the plow to soften it up. Our field (our hearts, our lives) should be worked (1 Corinthians 3:9) because we are called to break it up, prepare it, not to graze on its weeds lazily. God is the Sower and He needs good ground to produce a harvest. We as disciples must be made ready to accomplish a new work, to refocus our ministry on the kingdom and the Great Commission. The normal Christian lives we have been living have not produced the results, or fruits, God desired. Our lives need The Plow to break up our fallow ground.
We can break up the fallow ground in three simple steps:
1) Recognition: Look at your life. Are you hardened to God’s call to become usable for the Kingdom and live a fruitful Christian life with the character of Christ? Are you listening to the command of the Great Commission to be and make disciples? Your heart needs The Plow and you must recognize this or you will be living in mediocrity the remainder of your days. Do you not know that there is a judgment coming upon those who profess Christ (1 Corinthians 3:12-15 and 9:24-27)?
2) Repentance: Once you recognize you are not engaged in the battle for the Kingdom you must enlist immediately. Repentance is both turning away from something sinful (the hardened heart) and walking anew in the Spirit seeking the will of God (Romans 8). Turn and seek The Plow and endure until new life is begun in your heart and then constantly request The Plow to do its work in you.
3) Obedience: Soldiers are obedient and follow the commands of their officers and we should do the same with our command from the Commander (as a soldier), Master (as a slave), and Lord (as the household steward) of our lives. Simple obedience will open the gate for The Plow to come in to your field and break the fallow ground. A life of obedience is the call of the disciple.
What Matthew Henry penned in his commentary on this verse is a good summation of the good of breaking up fallow ground by the plow:
“Let them cleanse their hearts from all corrupt affections and lusts, which are as weeds and thorns, and let them be humbled for these sins, and be of a broken and contrite spirit in the sense of them; let them by full of sorrow and shame at the remembrance of them, and prepare to receive the divine precepts, as the ground that is ploughed is to receive the seed, that it may take root.”