7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them (Matthew 13:7).
22 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).
This is the third statement that Jesus made during His Parable of the Sower. We are looking at the statement that Jesus made during the parable and the corresponding explanation that He gave, then considering how we might apply this to our lives as Christians for the purpose of strengthening our faith.
Jesus has a lot to teach us. One of the lessons that He taught is that we cannot serve God and mammon. Mammon is a term in the bible that refers to material wealth. One of the greatest cares that a person has in this life pertains to material wealth, especially in prosperous nations that measure a person’s success and respectability in property square-footage, vehicle mileage, and retirement account balances—to name a few.
On one hand, we have some responsibility to care for people. Especially if we have a family, but how much of our cares are necessary and how many are merely mammon-like luxuries of societal pressure or personal ease and comfort?
Certainly, many Christians prosper because God has blessed them, and their wealth is not a distraction from the things of God. However, the things of God include lessons that Jesus taught about serving God and material gain.
To each his/her own conscience. I think we should refrain from judging anyone in these things overmuch, especially if we live in prosperous nations like in the West. We are all wealthy for the most part, even those of us who are technically impoverished by modern standards.
In any case, it’s not hard to see how a love of money or the responsibilities of this life in general can become a distraction from the things of God as given by Jesus and His apostles.
We only have so much time. How do we choose to spend that time? Once our needs are met, do we pursue more wealth, or do we pursue Jesus?
Sometimes we might have to forego some of our needs in order to pursue Jesus. Especially when we find that the cares of this life are taking us away from Him.
Jesus Himself said that His “meat is to do the will of my Father.” Sometimes our meat should be to do the will of our Lord. Sometimes our drink should be the Holy Spirit that springs up in us the knowledge of the Lord in truth unto everlasting life. Sometimes our rest should be to labor in the Lord. Sometimes our clothing should be His righteousness and the armor of God that fights against the powers of darkness in this world.
If we have these things, it does not really matter how much we lack in mammon. Jesus will provide for us, especially if we face a time when God decides to burn down our briars and thorns so that we can turn to Him more fully.
We really need very little to survive in the flesh, but we need the greatest things of all to survive in spirit and bodily in the resurrection, and only Jesus can provide those things. No amount of work in this world can gain them, and no troubles that we face in this life compare to the trouble of the “blackness of darkness forever.”
There is a time for all things. There is a time to prosper and there is a time to do without. Paul the Apostle spoke to this. He said that He knew how to have a lot and how to have nothing and to find contentment in all things through Jesus Christ. We can learn too by the grace of God as He wills it.
My Experience with Seed Among Thorns
Fighting against the thorns has been an on-going struggle for me for as long as I can remember in some form. Presently, this might be my greatest trouble. There is fruitfulness in Christ, by the grace and mercy of God. However, I feel the smothering of the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches all too well.
I’ve never owned my own home, so not having a home has been my greatest point of covetousness of riches. I’ve either lived in houses owned by other family members, lived with other family members, or rented—and it’s not because I do not work. I work constantly in some form these days, unless I’m asleep or managing to spend time with family.
I’m learning to be content with a roof over my head and the head of my family, even if it is not my own. I am learning to care less about what other people think about me also. There is an assumption that if you are impoverished, then you are incompetent or lazy. There are many reasons why people land on hard times, and sometimes it’s a matter of priority.
For example, I prioritize raising my kids over advancing my business. My kids are the reasons why I started my at-home work in the first place. I don’t regret choosing to homeschool my two older sons and keep my toddler at home. I don’t regret that my kids never saw the inside of a daycare. I don’t judge other parents. I only do what I think is best.
Yet, in doing these things, I find that the cares of this life are multiplied. In order to keep a reliable client, I have to work a set number of hours every week. I could probably make do with less money, but I have to keep the reliable client, or that’s my reasoning. In order to retain them and get the work done—while taking proper care of my kids—I have to spread those hours out over 7 days. It’s been that way since last summer. Other than 2 weeks off for last Christmas, I’ve had 3 days off (I think) in nearly a year. On one hand, I thank the Lord for giving strength to do more than I ever thought possible. On the other hand, those thorns are pressing in.
Jesus should be my first priority, but I feel more and more the fear that even He will get choked by the thorns. Yet, I have faith that He will not allow it. Finding time to write for Him is hard. I write for money every day. I should be able to give Him some time at least a few days a week.
Maybe one day I will not be able to continue with all of this. I don’t know how long I can. Yet, some things will remain fruitful. I can live a Christian life. I can raise my kids uprightly and keep working in that direction, for example. I can have the fruit of knowing and loving the teachings of Jesus. I can have the fruit of enduring hard things patiently. Not that I’m perfect in any of these things, nor do I want to seem to be.
The point is, there are many kinds of fruit, and I trust that Jesus will help us to preserve the fruit that He wants, and He might allow the thorns to choke the fruit that He doesn’t want. I don’t know.
Even as I write this, I’m tired, but I also know that the Sprit is strong when we are weak. I kind of like doing all my writing for Him at the end of long days for this reason. Lord willing, the Spirit will lead it and Lord willing, I will have strength to continue a while longer. I trust that I will finish all that He truly gave me to do. If I take up more than I should, I trust He will remove me from those things, or He will remove the thorns so that I can do what I should.
This article is part of a series that considers the parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the lessons that we might learn from The Parable of the Sower. <–Visit this for quick access to all articles written about this parable. If you would like to continue with this conversation, you can subscribe by email. Scroll down to the very bottom of your screen, and you will find a subscribe button. You can also follow in WordPress.