Choking the Word

thorny plants

“And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them…” (Matthew 13:7). “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).

The parable of the sower was one of the first parables (simple stories to teach a moral or deeper truth) that Jesus began to teach the people. In this parable, He was talking about a sower of seed who had distributed it among different kinds of ground. The seed here represents the Word of God. While each of the types of ground that the seed landed upon is important, the focus here is just on the thorny ground. When the Word is sown or distributed among thorns, or the cares of this world, then the Word is choked and has little usefulness.

Many today have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and they usually want to read His Word, the Bible. But they don’t want to yield to what His Word says.

They are driven instead by a desire to succeed. They have obtained many material goods and are determined to enjoy them.

They spend much of their free time entertaining friends, neighbors, and themselves. When approached by someone about God, they will readily mention that they are Christians, and might even quote a verse from the Bible. Yet, if the conversation turns to something deeper, they are quick to change the subject and move on to something else. Their lives are shallow and restricted. They may regularly attend a church and read the Bible some, but they find no real time to do what God says. They always have something else that needs to be done. (But if the Bible was an action-packed movie or a television show, they would easily make some time to watch it!)

thorny cactus

When thorns surround and choke a healthy plant, its growth will be significantly stunted. While it may still be green and appear to be thriving, it will never reach its proper fullness of growth unless the thorns are removed. In fact, it can’t grow anymore, because the thorns have taken control. The plant is basically helpless and will eventually succumb to the thorns. Unless something greater than the thorns comes and removes them, the plant will then wither and die.

When we allow thorns—the cares and pleasures of this world—to take over our life, then God’s Word no longer holds real importance to us. It may reach our heart, but we don’t grow, due to thorns like our job, our home, our vacation overseas, our vehicles, our friends, our movies, our television—on and on the list goes. But our relationship with God must come first. Our main focus should be on Jesus Christ, not social media, the Super Bowl and World Cup, or what restaurant our friends are eating at right now.

“…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 emphasis mine).

When we yield to Him and let Him pull out these thorns, then His Word will become clearer and we will desire to read it again. The more we eagerly want to know about Jesus, the more He will reveal Himself through His Word. The more we learn about Him through reading His Word, the more we will want to do what He tells us in His Word.

When Jesus sows His Word in our heart and we allow the thorns of the cares of this world to choke it out, we are saying that we do want Him, but we also plan to continue to do everything our way by ourselves. He then becomes like just another material item we own that we can proudly boast about to others.

Let Jesus be the source of your care, concern, and pleasure, not this world and all of its sources of temporary satisfaction.

Jesus said, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21 emphasis mine). Go before Him in prayer and make Him your treasure, yielding the thorns over to Him. Then His Word will be able to blossom abundantly in your heart and give you real satisfaction.

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Coveting or Content?


(flickr photo by jaguarmena shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license)

Versus

“Let your conversation [lifestyle] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for [Jesus] hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

Paul appeals urgently here to Christians to be content with what they have. Since we are still traveling through this world, we are still subject to the trouble it can bring. Coveting (an excessive craving or longing for some part of this world’s wealth) is the opposite of being content. It also includes envying anyone who has more than we do. But Christians should not find it hard to resist coveting, because God Almighty has already promised that He will not forget His children—He will take care of them. What possible reason could we have to covet, therefore? In fact, this kind of promise should keep us from worrying about anything, not just being fearful of doing without.

Let your life be free from covetousness…”
“Covetousness” is commonly called “the love of money.” …they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). Don’t wish you could have more than God has already given you. And don’t fall into the trap of coveting what God has given someone else. Why not go and rob that person’s house and take what you want for yourself if you feel this way? This is how God sees it when we covet what others have.

Be content with such things as ye have…”
How can Christians keep from coveting? Let what you have satisfy you. Stop craving other things just because they are newer or different or you don’t have one of that kind already. People who covet are never satisfied with their present state of affairs. They are always looking ahead to see what else they can acquire, before they have even enjoyed what they already have. This kind of attitude gets worse and worse as the years roll on if nothing is done to restrain it. What do we really own here, anyway? We know that none of it will go with us when we go to be with the Lord. Whenever you confront tight circumstances or have a need, be confident that our God will be with you and He will provide.

God arranges it so that we have just enough money to use in this life as we make our way toward our heavenly home. We already know that we have treasures waiting for us in heaven. That should be all we need to know in order to be content with the ordinary things here.

Realize also—if we Christians can’t be content here, we won’t be content in Heaven either. Look at Adam—he was discontented in the Garden of Eden—Paradise itself!

But then look at Paul. The great apostle found himself with nothing and was held very low in the estimation of others in his time. But he had already learned to be content in any and every state he might find himself in. Christians have good reason to be content with their present lot in life. God promised that He “…will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God is not a man that He should lie (see 1 Samuel 15:29). If He promises something, He will follow through on what He said. If we truly believe in God, we know He will not only always be with us throughout our life, but even when we die.

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [riches]. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:24-26).

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought…”
“Thought” here means “anxiety”—which is just what Jesus wants to protect us from. There is nothing wrong with giving thought to the future. It is appropriate to give some thought to the things of this life at times. But if we entertain thought as anxiety, or anything that causes care or concern or trouble, that is wrong. When we let our cares and troubles become our supreme concern, then anxiety arises and interferes with our devotion to God. We need to “Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians. 4:6).

Jesus’ disciples were being warned in Matthew 6 not to be greedy, and not to be anxious about how their needs would be provided. What difference is there between God’s people and those of the world, if we worry all the time about how we are going to be taken care of, like they are always doing? Does this show that we trust our God? Can’t we depend on Him to provide our needs here, no matter what they may be?

“Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”
“Meat” refers to all kinds of food when used in the Bible, while “raiment” refers to clothes. Jesus told His disciples to take “no thought” about how their wants and needs would be supplied. If God can give us life, surely the same God can see that the body He created is fed properly! And won’t He provide clothing for this same body as well? Or is our body merely a receptacle for receiving dainty food and wearing fashionable clothing?

The apostle Paul wrote: “…godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content…O man of God…follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness…do good…be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for [yourself] a good foundation against the time to come, that [you] may lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:6, 7, 11, 18, 19). Let’s be content with what we already have. If we have Jesus, we already have everything anyway! He is our source of supply or support—all that we need.

Never forget His promise to us: “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”