We are in a series looking at the parable of the sower. (If you’ve missed part 1 and part 2, you might want to go read those first.)
14 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.Luke 8:14
I’ve been told this is the one I harp on the most as a pastor. It’s one that presents a lot of challenges for Christians today.
Again, notice the seed springs to life. They hear and receive the seed. And unlike the seed in the rocky soil, they sustain life. But…
As they go on their way they are choked. We still like to go our own way don’t we? Even after coming to Christ, we still like to try to do things our own way. This is a problem as old as Christianity. Several letters in the new testament address this specific problem.
But, there’s more to it than that. We get choked (literally suffocated) by the cares, riches and pleasures of life.
In our garden here at the house, we have a weed seed population problem. It’s an old garden. The garden has been in this spot for decades. 40-50 years. Over that time, there have been times when the weeds have been let go. And they go to seed. As I’ve researched this problem, some of the seeds of these weeds can lie dormant in the soil for 40 years and still come to life.
There are gazillions of weed seeds in my garden. And it’s nearly impossible to deal with, unless I take drastic measures.
What I know from first hand experience is, unless I stay on top of the weeds, they will choke out my plants every time. Some of them, like the corn, if I can stay on top of it long enough, the corn will provide enough shade to keep the weeds from growing. Others, I have to fight all season long.
The last two years, I’ve given up on the weeds around mid-august. I can only weed so much.
This is what happens to God’s truth in our hearts. The problem of this soil is both a lack of focus and a lack of a filter.
1.) Lack of Focus
Michael Hyatt says: “I can do anything but I can’t do everything.” That’s a good quote to memorize. I wrestle with this very issue. I think I can do it all. But, I can’t. And the more I try to take on, the less I can do. I’m ambitious.
It’s easy to make these all bad things, but are they? Are the cares of this life bad? Are all the pleasures of this life bad? They can be. But, inherently, they’re not all evil. But, when our focus is on them, they take over. When we think we can have it all, we end up with nothing. When our focus isn’t on God because we’re distracted by the cares, riches and pleasures of this life, we’re letting a lot of weed seeds get planted in the soil of our hearts. And they choke out the one thing that really matters. We have to keep our focus on the one seed, Jesus – the word of life.
2.) Lack of a filter.
At the same time, our hearts can be too open. The soil is soft and ready to receive the seed, but we don’t filter the seeds before letting them in our hearts.
For some Christians, this has become a major problem as many are now embracing the idea that there are many ways to get to heaven. Sure, Jesus is the way, but all the ways lead to God. (This is a serious epidemic in the church today.) Jesus said he is the only way to the Father. And the Father is the point by the way. Heaven is just the setting, but the Father is eternal life.
But it’s not just the seeds of other religions that we let in our hearts. It’s the seeds of this life, the cares, riches and pleasures. We allow the trending popularity of issues counter and contrary to God’s word to take root in our hearts, and they grow up to suffocate the word of life in us.
We can’t ride two horses with one saddle.
Tomorrow, we’re going to look at the last soil, the good soil.
Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash