There are three versions of the Parable of the Sower (also known as the Parable of the Soils), and they are found in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15. In these parables, Jesus uses seeds as a substitute for the Word of God and talks about the various responses people have when hearing it.
The hard ground represents someone hardened by sin, who when hearing the Gospel, fails to understand and refuses to accept it, continuing in his or her sinful lifestyle. The stony ground represents someone who is delighted to hear God’s Word and professes belief until troubles come, at which time this person abandons God and His Word for their previous lifestyle, having never been truly changed. The seed that falls upon thorny soil is like a person who hears and seems to have accepted God’s Word, but then allows the cares of this world to choke the Word out of his or her life, having no time for God amid all their worldly distractions. The rich soil represents the one who hears and believes, accepts the calling of God on their life and continues in the Word, bearing spiritual fruit as they grow in knowledge and understanding.
The one I want to talk about today is the seed that has fallen on the thorny ground. Mark 4:18-19 says, “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” Too often, we allow the cares and responsibilities of this world to take first place in our lives, pushing God to the background. The more we do this, the further back God is pushed, until we no longer have time for Him in our daily lives.
In Galatians 6:7-8, we read, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” And Romans 8:5-8 tells us, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So, then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” When we continually put earthly cares and desires before God, we are giving in to our human nature, placing the cares of this world over our spiritual needs.
In 1 John 2:15-17, we are told, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” Although we have responsibilities in this life, they should never be a priority over our relationship with God. Matthew 6:24-34 tells us that we are more important than the birds in the sky or the lilies in the field. By placing our trust in God, refusing to allow the pressures of this life to drain away our faith, we can be confident that He will provide our needs. Matthew 6:33 tells us, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
The constant pressure of day to day life, such as work, education, taking care of responsibilities and social duties, can distract us and cause us to ignore God, thereby ignoring our Christian growth. When we place a desire for wealth on this list, the level of distraction increases, and along with it comes temptations to cheat and take advantage of others in order to succeed. 1 Timothy 6:7-11 makes it clear that the pursuit of riches can lead to destruction. “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. But 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.”
In addition, when we place the cares of this world as our priority, producing spiritual fruit becomes almost impossible. Matthew 6:24 tells us, “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.” While striving for wealth or social status, or simply choosing worldly pursuits over prayer and Bible study, we are effectively putting God on the back burner of our lives so that our worldly desires can be fulfilled and neglecting our spiritual growth. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” These are the things that suffer when we neglect prayer and study of God’s Word in favor of worldly pursuits.
What kind of soil are you? Is your ground thorny or is it rich in spiritual growth? Do you seek to do things that bring about knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and His will for your life? Or do you allow the cares of this world to take priority over the things of God? We should all seek to produce spiritual fruit in our lives that we might be pleasing in the sight of God. Let us all remember, as we read in Colossians 3:1-2, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Grace and blessings on your path,