14 The sower soweth the word.
15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
19 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.
20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. [Mark 4:14-20]
All of us are barraged daily with things that distract. The CHALLENGES of life feel like trying to take a SIP of water from a FIREHOSE. Does your life feel like that? Mine too. Everyone seems to want / need your attention. Some of them are not sinful in themselves, but when we allow them to take away from more important things, then they become sin.
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” [James 4:17]
Paul tells us, “And be not conformed to this world” [Rom 12:2]; John says we must “not love the world or the things in the world” [1John 2:15-17]; James wrote “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God” [James 4:4] and to remain “unspotted from the world” [James 1:27]. While much can be said about all 4 soils, this article will focus on the Thorny Ground, “the CARES of this world.”
First, we all face the physical (the bible calls them CARNAL) needs of life. Food, Clothing & Shelter are necessities and not sinful. For most of us it feels like we work just to pay our bills, or that we’re in a rat race. This is telling us that the Carnal needs of life are surpassing the “weightier matters.” Another way of saying this is with one word, WORRY. Jesus gives us the remedy; “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” [Mat 6:19-34]
A second thing that is not necessarily sinful are the AMUSEMENTS we have. The scriptures teach us that God, “giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” It’s ok to relax, rest and enjoy the fruits of our labor. However, when they push out the “weightier matters” they have become sin.“There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.” [Prov 21:20] When we take time to enjoy the fruits of our labor, do we forsake the assembling of ourselves together when we go on vacation? We’re not speaking of sinful things like adultery, fornication, stealing, drunkenness, lying, etc. Often, it’s the lawful things that we’ve placed ahead of our service to the Lord.
The third thing that can become a distraction, and I say this with all humility knowing that this one hits our heart, is our RELATIONSHIPS. Family & Friends are important, commanded, and necessary to our existence. [cf. Gen 2:18; 1Cor 7:2; 1Tim 5:16 et al] However, even these can lead to distraction if we allow relationships to take us away from that which is right. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” [Mat 10:37; cf. 1Cor 7:32-33] We must care for our families, AND we must serve the Lord. God is not telling us to stop loving our family, friends, or neighbors. We ought to do these things without leaving the others undone. Here’s something to remember; our family, who have gone on before us, would give this exact advice! [Luke 16:19-31:]
Fourthly, mixed in with all of the above is our need for money. Our household ECONOMICS can elevate to a point where we begin to trust it above our trust in God. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God,” [1Tim 6:10,17; cf. James 5:3; Mat 6:19] One must love and trust the Lord PREEMINENTLY [Col 1:18].
A fifth distraction can be the SOCIAL Ills of the world. Some of us have placed our concern for Societal ills ABOVE the spreading of the Gospel. This concern creeps into our practices in the church. We must be constantly reminded that the Gospel “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” [Rom 1:16]. We must help our neighbors, and the best way to do that is by teaching them the way of the Lord and by doing things His way [Mat 22:21; 2Thess 3:12; 1Tim 5:16; Eph 4:28].
Be on your guard, be watching and let’s not grow weary doing good while waiting for the Lord’s return. May we be found well doing when He returns. “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” [Luke 12:37]
“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and CARES of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” [Luke 21:34; emp mine seb]