On your Mark
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, 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 4:18,19,
There are multiple responses to Jesus.
The seed fallen on the path points us to the hardened heart.
The seed fallen on rocky places illustrates the heart initially receptive to
Him, but not for the long haul. The seed of Jesus’ words fallen into thorns presents
us with the divided heart.
Unlike the seed among the thorns, the seed growing in rocky
places has no plant competition. It’s the only thing growing there. That would
explain the joy of many new converts. Jesus has become the only positive news
in their lives — no wonder He is immediately welcomed with gladness. But
hardship quickly scorches the seed among the rocks.
Not so the seed among the thorns — it is simply
squeezed. There’s too much else fighting for attention. That person hears the
Word, but that’s not the only thing being heard. Life is full of noises and
attractions competing against Jesus.
Jesus says the thorns are three things: worries, wealth and
desires. Usually, only worries are thought of as thorns — the prickly
things that disturb our comforts. Worries or anxiety can become so large that
they choke our human and spiritual potential.
We do worry — about our health, our children, our
family, our jobs, our retirement and lots of other cares. We can become so
bound up with these concerns that we lose meaning, purpose and joy.
Wealth is not a problem for most of us, since lack of money
seems to be a more major problem. But I have noticed that those followers of
Jesus who become financially well-fixed have the unique danger and temptation
of exempting themselves from meaningful Christian service because their money
can afford them much leisure.
Desires reach out to all of us. We want other things!
I remember once receiving a prayer request from a visitor in
our church. It read: “Pray for me. I want a new home, a new job, a new wife and
a new car.” It was the “new wife” I couldn’t pray for!
What unholy desires do you have? Can you live satisfied with
what the Lord has put in your hands today? Or are you perpetually unhappy
because you are always reaching for something more, for a future that is
outside your grasp?
As followers of Jesus, we must learn to balance aspiration
with contentment. Desires (and wealth) can be good things, but the nature of
sin is such that even the good things in life can be contaminated through
Which of these “thorns” do you have the most trouble with?
Worry? Wealth? Desires?
As a young minister, I went through a terrible season of
anxiety about my work. In the middle of a nerve attack one evening, I shot up a
desperate prayer to the Lord: “Jesus, I’ve worried about this all day. I would
like to sleep. It’s Your turn to worry. Good night.” The Lord instantly
answered my prayer. I fell asleep, and the healing from anxiety has remained to
Why not give your worry, your wealth, your desires to the
Lord? Lay them at His feet. It’s not His will that the thorns grow up and choke
A prayer of response
Come, Divine Gardener, and weed out of me that which is
unlike You. Heal my anxiety with Your calm. Let my wealth serve You and others
and not just myself. Replace my wrongful desires with passion to do Your will.
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies
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