Thorny Ground

The gospels of Mathew, Mark and Luke each give the parable of the sower.  The account given by Luke is found in Luke 8:5-8.   If you are unfamiliar with the parable, please read it.  Jesus explained the parable in Luke 8:11-15 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.  Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.   But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.  Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.   But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.” 

Four types of ground or hearts are described in the parable.  The first type of ground is by the wayside; Jesus said that these are those who hear the word and the devil takes the word out of their heart so that they don’t believe.  Since you are a believer, this does not apply to you.  The second type of ground is rocky; Jesus said that these are those who hear and receive the word with joy and believe for a while but fall away in time of temptation or adversity.  May you never give up your faith because of problems, trials or temptation to sin.  The third type of ground is thorny ground; these are those who continue to believe but bring no fruit to maturity.

It is possible that you or I could be those who bring no fruit to maturity.  We continue to believe, continue to count ourselves as Christians, but our lives do not show the fruit that God wants.  God wants each of us to bear much fruit.  John 15:8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”  John the Baptist taught the necessity of bearing good fruit or being cut down.  Matthew 3:10 “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”  It is important to God that we bear good fruit.

There are various kinds of fruit that we might bear for God.  One type of fruit is to be a light in the world and to be active in sharing the gospel with those who are lost so that they come to believe and obey the gospel.  But not every Christian is going to have a major part in bringing someone to Christ.  The Bible talks about other fruit that we bear.  Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”  The result of the Holy Spirit truly living in you and working in you are these nine characteristics or fruit.  Sending aid to those in need is also described as fruit.  Philippians 4:16-17 “For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.  Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.”  I believe this is teaching us that doing good works from our heart is fruit God wants us to bear.  There are multiple types of spiritual fruit.  The point is that we each should bear fruit for God.

Now look at what can hinder us from bringing fruit to maturity.  In the parable, Jesus taught that we can be “choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.”  The first hindrance is cares.  It is very easy to become consumed with living a busy, everyday life and forget about God.  Maybe it is problems that you have in your life – health issues or relationships with family members or co-workers.  Maybe it is taking care of your children and participating in their activities.  Or maybe it is being a caregiver to someone.  Maybe it is trying to earn a living for the family.  There are a lot of potential cares in life that can distract you from the spiritual matters that are more important.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:33-34 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

The second hindrance is riches.  We are taught in 1 Timothy 6:9-10 “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  Jesus also taught in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  Mammon is understood to be riches.  Seeking after riches will hinder you from bearing fruit for God.

The third hindrance is pleasures.  This is the gratification of the natural or sinful desires.  James 4:1-3 “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?  You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”  Seeking pleasure in life is selfish whereas love seeks the good of others.  We are to deny ourselves.  Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’”  I don’t want to imply that we can have no pleasure in life, because there are many good things in life that we can enjoy and thank and praise God.  But living for selfish pleasures will choke the word of God so that we will bring no spiritual fruit to maturity.

I encourage you to not be choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life so that you bring no spiritual fruit to maturity.  Instead, be the fourth type of ground – the good ground that keeps the word of God and bears much fruit with patience.