The spiritual meaning of the field, house, bowl, and ox

The Bible is full of figurative language. In the figurative language of the Bible, fields, houses, bowls, and oxen refer to people’s hearts (1 Cor 3:9; 1 Cor 3:16-17; Rom 9:23-24; 1 Cor 9:9-10).

Fields are the ground where seeds are sown, where those seeds sprout, and where they grow to one day bear fruit. A field that cannot fulfill its purpose of one day bearing fruit is useless and should be discarded. If seeds cannot sprout because they were sown in a bad field, all the work of sowing them was a waste of time and energy. This is true for both physical and spiritual fields. A spiritual field can only fulfill its purpose when a spiritual seed that was sown there grows into a tree that bears fruit (Mt 13:1-9; Mt 13:18-23; Lk 8:4-15).

Houses are built for someone to live in them. Vacant houses fall into disrepair and are overgrown with weeds. Someone must occupy a house for it to be properly maintained. The same is true of spiritual houses, which represent our hearts. If God does not dwell within your heart, your house is vacant and eventually becomes worthless. If God is living in your house, though, it becomes a holy temple of God.

There are two things you must do for God to dwell in the house of your heart. You must make your heart a good home for God and you must fill your spiritual house with the things of God. God lives wherever his word is. If you fill your heart with the word of God, God will come to dwell within it. Your heart will become a temple of God (Jn 1:1-4; 1 Cor 3:9; 1 Cor 3:16; Eph 2:22).

Some bowls are used for noble purposes and some for common (Rom 9:21-24). Good things are stored in good bowls, and bad things are stored in bad bowls. Since people’s hearts are figurative bowls, good hearts are filled with the holy words of heaven, but bad hearts are filled with evil lies.

A bowl that cannot be used and filled with good things is worthless, regardless of how nice the bowl itself may be. You may have some healthy and delicious food, but if you simply stare at it and rave about how wonderful it is without eating it, what good is it to you? Can that food magically enter your stomach if you don’t eat it? How can your body use that food to mend flesh and blood? How can it give life unless you eat it?

God’s word is food that leads to eternal life, but it is useless to you are satisfied with merely looking at it or listening to it. No, the food of eternal life must fill our hearts so it can give us spiritual life, so it can become blood, strength, and breath. This is how we can live for eternity with God in our hearts. When we testify to the words that are living within our hearts, we plant those words as seeds in another the field of another person’s heart. If you do not have God’s words in your heart, it is an uncultivated field, a vacant house, an empty bowl. On the other hand, if you write God’s words in your heart, you are God’s field, God’s house, and God’s bowl.

People use oxen to work in their fields, but the oxen never work by themselves. They must be led. Oxen that cannot work have lost their usefulness and are led away to be slaughtered for food. Believers must become spiritual oxen (1 Cor 9:9-10) who belong to God and who can carry out God’s work. They must learn to plow spiritual fields to make them capable of receiving seed. They must sow the seed and cultivate the land that represents people’s hearts (1 Cor 3:9; 1 Cor 3:16-17).

Let’s become the people of heaven who fulfill our missions as spiritual fields, houses, bowls, and oxen by building God’s kingdom within our own hearts and within the hearts of others.
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