Jesus liked to teach in parables. When He told the parable of the sower, He gave His disciples a full explanation that left nothing up in the air. Reading this parable, and the explanation of it, tells us in no uncertain terms the four types of people who hear the word of God.
“And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, ‘Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.’
‘Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.’” (Matt 13:3-9; 18-23 NASB).
When reading this parable, you have to ask yourself which of these categories you fall into:
- Those who hear the Word, yet never give their heart to Jesus (the seed on the path)
- Those who accept Jesus, but never establish a relationship with Him (the seed on the rocks; no root)
- Those who have a relationship with Him, but get distracted (the seed choked by the weeds)
- Those who will let nothing interfere with their relationship to the Lord (the seed on good soil that produces a crop)
Self-evaluation can be a dangerous undertaking. It is easy to scoff at being in the first three categories, and then to place yourself in category four. That is fine, if that is where you belong. Careful reading of this text will show you that any of the conditions are okay, as long as you recognize which condition you are in, and work toward improving your condition.
Now, I realize that my last paragraph can be inflammatory. I am not saying it is okay to stay in categories 1 – 3. I said it is okay to be in any of the categories. If you know where you are, and where you want to be, then you have something to work with. Category four is where you want to be, because it is here that you grow and produce.
This parable is talking about the condition of your heart (soil). In each condition, there is work to be done in order that you are receptive of His message. I wanted to concentrate on the third condition, today.
I am a person who is easily distracted by things. The point to just about anything is like a dot in the middle of a sheet of paper. The white space is all of the other things my brain can possibly imagine. Staying on the point is very difficult when surrounded by so much other “stuff”. I was praying about how easy I can be distracted. I acknowledged how easy it is for my mind to wander every which way. Well that phrase conjured up the memory of the old Clint Eastwood movie, “Every Which Way But Loose”. This movie is about fighting. I like boxing. There will be televised boxing matches this weekend. Somehow, I drifted from telling the Lord about my wandering mind to thinking about whether I would watch boxing on Saturday.
That’s when the Lord pointed out to me that this is precisely what was meant by the seeds being sown with the thorns. These “thorns”, or “weeds”, can be a variety of things. In their most basic form, they are anything that robs God of our attention. What gets in the way of your communion with God? When asked this question, it can be easy to think of all the major things that are going on in your life, but try not to forget about the little things. John Donne lived prior to any of our technological advances. He once wrote, “I neglect God for the noise of a fly, the rattling of a coach, the creaking of a door.” These are exactly the kinds of weeds that I deal with – distractions.
There have been many times that I have discussed a “quite time” with other Christians. The most common thing I hear is that a “quiet time” is a luxury. They tell me that they just don’t have time for a “quiet time”. Does this mean that the things people have time for take precedence over our creator? All of the stuff that gets in the way is distraction. I am not suggesting that everything other than God be neglected, but I am saying that God should never be neglected for all of this other stuff. We should be able to give God our attention in the midst of our lives. John V. Taylor wrote, “Attention means being in attendance…To be ‘in the Spirit’ is to be vividly aware of everything the moment contains, the twigs of the thorn-bush as well as the presence of God.”
I don’t know what it takes to neglect the thought process so that other things don’t steal my attention away from God. However, I do know that letting everything in the world interrupt my time alone with God is not very submissive. James 4:7 tells us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Most people read the part about resisting the devil, but the first act has to be submission to God, otherwise the devil has no reason to flee. I know that the word “submit” can be confusing. What does it truly mean to “submit to God”? Consider this verse from other translations, “So place yourselves under God’s authority. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you.” “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” “So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.”
I know it is easier to say than to do, but we have got to make God our only priority. He will take care of our needs, not always the way we want Him too, but the way that He knows is best.