Read: Matthew 13
“The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.” (Matthew 13:22)
When I was a kid, every Spring my father would plant a garden in our back yard—tomatoes, green beans, corn, squash, strawberries—you name it, if it had a chance to grow, he’d plant it. He even planted cotton—in Oregon, for crying out loud! Then every Saturday morning in growing season, he’d drag my sorry carcass out of bed to weed that garden.
And I hated it; I wanted nothing to do with it. I wanted to be doing more productive things that all the other kids my age got to do on Saturdays: Sleeping in, or playing street football, or riding my stingray bike, or watching Saturday cartoons (in those days, “George of the Jungle” and its ilk were much more educational and mind-stretching than the stuff kids watch today). But no, I had to pull those stinking weeds.
Perhaps my dad, like Jesus, who spoke continually in parables to illustrate the kingdom life, was trying to teach an object lesson. You see, just as weeds can stunt the growth of a physical garden, nothing is more damaging to your relationship with God and your spiritual fruitfulness than the “worry-weeds” in your life: The cares of this life and lure of wealth. These weeds are particularly dangerous because they look like fruit-producing plants at first, but in the end, they are noxious. They pop up early and often in the soil of your heart, and they alluringly demand your attention. Jesus called them thorns, warning that if not dealt with, they will eventually choke out the fruit-producing seed of God’s Word.
What are your worry-weeds? Making the mortgage payment on your home, paying for a couple of cars in your garage, affording a respectable university for your kids or making sure your retirement account is getting fatter? Do you stay awake at night worrying about the yo-yo stock market, plotting the next move to outpace the “Joneses”, or worrying about who will occupy the White House in two years? What are your worry-weeds?
Be honest—you’ve got worries; so do I. I fight the same addiction to the cares of life and the lure of wealth that you do. Whether we like to admit it or not, the “thorns” that Jesus warned about are competing with the values of God’s Kingdom for the soil of our heart. And guess what? You and I are the only ones who can weed out those worries. For sure, God will strengthen you and give you discernment to deal with them, but you are the one who will have to do a little self-weeding.
Listen—it is time to quit talking about this and start weeding. You know intuitively that I am spot on about this. The growth and fruitfulness of the Kingdom of God in your life, in your family, and in your church is riding on you being bold enough, wise enough and ruthless enough to start pulling and chucking those weeds right out of your life.
So let’s do some weeding! I will pray for you, and I hope you will pray for me.
“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.” ~C.S. Lewis
What If God Took Over?
Jesus didn’t offer any practical actions steps here about weeding did he? I think that’s because we really don’t need any. We just need to roll up our sleeves and get busy. How about going back to Matthew 6:33 and putting the things that are consuming your attention through the sieve of “seek first the kingdom”? Then anything that gets caught in the sieve … weed it out!