A farmer went out to sow his seed. … Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. … Like seed sown among thorns, [some people] hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
- Mark 4:3, 7, 18-19
Jesus insightfully lists 3 things that can keep the word of God from bearing fruit in your life: worries, wealth, and distraction.
The worries of this life operate just like a thorn bush. We have a finite supply of emotional energy; the soil has a finite supply of nutrients. Just as a patch of ground can’t support both thorns and crops, there isn’t room in our lives for unrestricted anxiety. For the word of God to grow up in our lives, we have to find healthy ways to deal with our anxiety.
The same goes with wealth. When a thorn bush grows up around a seedling, it protects the baby plant from hungry predators. At the same time, the thorns soak up the sun, denying that life-giving energy to the plant. Wealth can also do this to us: shielding us from hardship but, at the same time, stifling our ability to grow. Deceived by wealth, we become incapable of risk-taking (we have too much to lose) and blind to our status (God does not show favoritism). We can all quickly see how wealth can be a blessing, but know that the blessing of wealth is a complex blessing.
Finally, let’s look at distraction. The phrase Jesus uses here – “the desires for other things” – paints the image of a person who longs for everything except the most important thing. If you can, try to picture a seedling impersonating a thorn bush. The seedling pours effort into developing spikes. It does everything the thorns do, but fails to do what the seedling was supposed to do. You have multitudinous options for how you’re going to spend your time, your energy and your life. If you don’t prioritize your relationship with God, don’t be surprised when that relationship isn’t thriving.
Which of these three growth-chokers do you most struggle with? How has God helped you in your struggle? How are you addressing these in your life today?