By Kathy Johnston
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. Matthew 13:22
I hate weeds! One of my first jobs as a young teen was to “walk beans.” If you didn’t grow up in the Midwest, you probably have no idea what in the world that means!
Walking beans was “weed control” back in the “old days” before genetic engineering and round-up came along. Farmers would hire crews of teen-agers to walk up and down the long rows with hoes, cutting out any weeds growing up in the row of soybeans from early morning until about noon when it would get too unbearably hot and humid. The rows were often over a ½ mile in length so needless to say we got lots of exercise! It was hot, uncomfortable and exhausting work. But it had to be done or the soybeans would not produce a good crop if there were too many weeds choking out the soybean plants. And it was a good way for teens to make some money in the summer!
As I was reading through the story of the parable of the sower in the gospels again today, I thought of how perfect this fits with what Jesus was saying about the seed sown among thorns. Just as the weeds would choke out the soybean plants, so Jesus warns us in this parable that the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things would choke out the word in our lives and lead to unfruitfulness.
How easily our hearts can be turned away from Christ and focused on the cares of this world. I’ve always loved the “rope illustration” by Francis Chan. (If you haven’t seen it, watch it here!) We can get so choked up by spending so much of our time, effort, finances, focus and concern for the here and now that we end up spending so little thought and effort on that which lasts for eternity.
In 1 Peter 2 we are reminded that we are aliens and strangers in this world. We’ve got a temporary visa in this world but permanent citizenship in heaven! This world is not our home! Why do we put so much effort and focus on what will pass away?
Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5 that our bodies are just tents that some day are going to be destroyed but that we have a house, not built with hands, waiting for us in heaven that is so much better than a tent!
At my first husband’s funeral, my dad, who was a pastor, set a tent up on the platform. At the end of the service, he had my three boys come up and take the tent down. It was such a comforting and beautiful reminder that our citizenship is not of this world. We live in it, but it isn’t our real home. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 not to be anxious about our lives, about what we should eat, drink or wear. It’s good to honestly ask ourselves what is consuming most of our time and our thoughts. We shouldn’t get too comfortable living in our “tents”!
We can’t have our feet in both worlds. In Revelation 3:15, Jesus says to the believers in Laodicea who were consumed by earthly things: “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
We can’t say we follow Christ and at the same time be obsessed with this world. Our devotion cannot be divided. God will not have it. This kind of living leads to all sorts of unhappiness, dissatisfaction and unfruitfulness. What good is it if we have all the things of the world but we lose our very souls? Hebrews 6:7-8 “For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.”
My prayer is that with each passing day, we all become more enamored with Jesus Christ, desiring to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, bearing much fruit and that the things of this world become less “glittery” and “grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”