Do you feel that you are walking more closely with Jesus today than you were a year ago?
That is a tough question for many Christians today. Not because it is abstract and hard to understand. It is tough because it is concrete and demands an honest answer. You may can fake good intentions and church boy morality, but you can’t fake spiritual maturity. Sooner or later immaturity, if it is present will always rear it’s ugly head.
I sense a similar point in Luke 8:14, a verse from the well known Parable of the Sower. Actually this verse comes after Jesus’s public sermon and occurs during a private conversation with His disciples when they asked Him what the parable meant. He gave it to them plain and simple and the abstract suddenly became concrete. Now I am not able to give a full exposition on the parable of the sower in such a short space. If that is what you’re looking for then you’ll just have to come listen to me preach. What I want to do here is to hone in on one of the locations where the seed fell. That location is the third one, explicitly mentioned in Jesus’s parable, the thorns. Here’s how Jesus puts it…
And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. -Luke 8:14, ESV
There is a concept in biology that is worthy of note here. The concept is captured in one word: Competition. It can be used in reference to molecular biology all the way up to general ecology. The simplistic definition is: a scenario in which two or more organisms are competing for a limited resource that results in harm to one of the organisms. Here is a more practical way of understanding competition. Those weeds in your vegetable garden are not just a nuisance to you, they are most likely robbing your plants of the essential nutrients they need to grow to maturity. Jesus picks up on this natural occurrence which everyone understands and says “if the seed falls among thorns, those thorns will choke away the nutrients needed for the fruit to mature.”
So how does this agricultural illustration instruct the reader about spiritual things? We must first consider that the seed is identified as The Word of God explicitly in verse 11. It is also apparent by the context that Jesus is using the various locations as a means to illustrate a spiritual concept. The trampled path, the rocky ground, the thorns, and the good soil are illustrations representing the human heart, that is the center of your being. It is quite apparent that the first three soils (or locations) are not conducive for spiritual growth. Jesus explicitly points this out in verses 9-14. Now remember I can’t give a full exposition of Luke 8 in a short blog. But I can’t point out a quick thought about “the thorns.”
Here it is. Are there things in your life that are competing for your affections that prevent you from seeking The Lord? Oh certainly in American culture that list could get very long, very quickly. What do you have or associate with in your life that upon hearing The Word, which leads to life (Matthew 4:4), competes with it for your worship, your affections, your time, your heart-things which are limited mind you! Perhaps I can state even more plainly. Do you have some thorns in your life that are choking the Word of God from your heart? Friend, I will tell you a truth. A heart that is crowded with thorns is not conducive for spiritual growth. You may show initial signs that look like genuine life, but those thorns will choke out the nutrients preventing maturity. You can fake good morality, but you can’t fake maturity. Sooner or later immaturity will rear its ugly head. That’s terrifying I know. But here is the good news: those thorns need not be permanent. By and through the grace and power of God you can pull those thorns out before they choke you out. It’s called repentance: A turning from the riches, cares, and pleasures of this world to The Lord in whom you faithfully trust. Don’t try to fake it, remove the thorns and bear fruit unto maturity.