Luke 8:14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
Matthew’s record of this parable (Matthew 13:1-23) is perhaps better known than Luke’s, but one word in Luke’s record strikes me: “mature.” Normally I consider it very risky to stress a particular word in a passage, understanding the art of translation as I do, but the Japanese likewise uses a term that means “mature, ripe.” Too many of us allow the things of this world to keep us green and immature. The list here of such things is very basic: worries, riches, pleasures. Every person on earth is tempted and/or distracted by such things, sometimes more than at other times, and to varying degrees, but it’s part of the human condition. That’s why Jesus told us, so clearly and famously, to “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” Everyone has moments of worry. Riches aren’t bad in themselves. God wants us to have fun, and He created us to be able to enjoy things. However, each of these things can be a barrier to our maturity and fruitfulness, if we allow them to come ahead of God in our priorities. Every human being has an innate desire, a need, really, for their life to have meaning and purpose. When we tie that with riches and pleasures, we end up with ashes in our mouth, realizing we have wasted our lives. Worries are a special category, because we gain nothing from them but they can rob us of so much. Even so, we cooperate with the robber all too readily, worrying over things we cannot change and so overlooking, or even destroying, countless blessings God has prepared for us. That’s why the Bible tells us again and again not to worry. When we genuinely seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, we realize that those things are available only in and through God Himself, and so we stop striving in our own strength, and relax to allow Him to bring those things about in and through us.
This applies to me on every level. As a pastor I desire maturity for everyone in my care, and it pains me to see them struggling with these issues. However, I myself am not perfect in my response to them! I too need to choose to focus on God’s kingdom and His righteousness, so that God may grow me to the fruitful maturity He desires in me. It’s been many years since He told me to rest, relax, and rejoice in Him, but I’m still learning! Right now I’m in the middle of another practicum, having had a CT scan yesterday, with assorted pre-surgery tests today and a consultation with the surgeon about a skin cancer, right in the middle of a photo show that started yesterday and will run through the 17th. God continues to grow my faith, but the stretching process isn’t always comfortable. I am quite used to dealing with my wife’s medical issues, but I’m not used to being the one to make her anxious! We both need to place and keep our focus on our Lord, who will never allow anything He can’t use for our blessing and His glory. (Romans 8:28)
Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You that we were fully set up by opening time yesterday, and for the many friends who came by to see the show. Thank You for the sales we’ve made already. Thank You for showing us the adjustments we need to make. Help us get those done without hassle. I pray that things would go smoothly this morning, both at the hospital and at the gallery, and that things would go well at the gallery this afternoon. Help us keep our hearts at rest in You, even as our bodies are busy, so that we may bear the fruit that You intend, on Your schedule and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!