Luke 8:11-15 (ESV)
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.  The ones along the path are those who have heard. Then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.  And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.  And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.  As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
Having told His disciples why He speaks in parable Luke 8:9-10), Jesus goes on to explain the parable of the sower to them. There are four types of soil that the good seed of the Word of God lands on when the Gospel is delivered.
Seed that falls on the roadway will never penetrate into the ground. The ground is too hard and dry. It just sits there and as soon as the birds spy it they swoop down and take it away. We have all dealt with such people. They hear the Gospel but they give it no consideration or thought. Their hearts are hard, their minds are closed. As soon as they hear the Word it leaves them. The devil snatches the Gospel out of their thinking, out of their lives before it has a chance to germinate in the least. They may be antagonistic, faithful to some other religion, convinced of other things that oppose the Gospel. It could be any number of things. But they do not receive the Gospel.
We can often think that as long as the Gospel is delivered properly, relevantly, faithfully, that it will garner an audience and reception. This is not the case. It was not the case with Jesus Himself and it will not be the case with us. Technique, approach, clarity etc. are not what convinces people. Sometimes we can have all our ducks in a row and get no response to our preaching at all. Other times we may not be as prepared, not as faithful and not as organized and find that people were saved despite us.
We cannot soften hearts. We cannot make someone respond to the Gospel. We should plan and strategize and know how best to deliver the Gospel. We should be considerate and non judgmental and polite and nice. This is certainly wiser than being rude and demanding. But there are no guarantees that the right approach will always produce the desired result. Jesus Himself did not convince everybody that He was who He said He was. We should be in much prayer that the Lord will lead us to responsive people, but we need to remember that there will always be those who simply do not want the Gospel.
This should never make us quit. God tells us to go and preach and talk to whoever will give us audience. Lack of results is no reason to give up. We need to be sensitive to what we are to do and where we are to do it. There are times to stop and move on to other areas, other people and other approaches but lack of converts is not the only indicator of time to move on.
The thought of the evil one stealing the sown seed should break our hearts. Casting seed is hard work. Giving the Gospel to lost people is hard work. To know that people need Christ and not be able to convince them of it is heartbreaking. Psalm 126 tells us of the one who goes out weeping carrying precious seed to sow. There will be fruit, as we will see later, but there are always birds who steal away the seed and that is so heartbreaking. Jesus saw the crowds of people and was moved with compassion on them because they were lost harassed and helpless. The trouble is, they do not know it. Such is our work. There are happier results sometimes, but we should be prepared for this if we are serious about giving the Gospel.