One of Jesus’ many well-known parables is the parable of the sower, which imagines a man with a bag of seed, casting the kernels this way and that. The seed, which represents the gospel, lands on different types of soil, which represent human hearts, human lives.
We often think of this parable as speaking primarily about evangelism. The sower is the evangelist, spreading the Word. But that’s only the most basic dimension. The story applies to the whole of a Christian life because we must bring forth the seed of the gospel in our hearts at all times and for all time.
With that in mind, consider Christ’s statement about seed that fell in brambles: “[T]hey are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8.14).This is something we all must beware, not merely new Christians. As we go our way, are we entangled in “the cares and riches and pleasures of life”?
Are we full of anxiety and fears, worries and distractions? Is our treasure in material ease, pleasure, and comfort? Do we identify God’s blessing too closely with gain and his displeasure too closely with loss?
Some people lose everything and draw closer to God. Think of Christians who suffered persecution, great persecution. What of the faithful believers behind the Iron Curtain, for instance, those who lost everything but the honor of dying in witness to the gospel? The Word took real root, deep root, in their lives and blossomed to the glory of God.
When we face our petty cares or fondle our small desires, can we keep them in perspective? The bramble patches of our lives should shrink as the gospel grows in our hearts. Taking the imagery from the parable a bit further, we should pray and strive so that the gospel will choke out the cares and lusts and vain ambitions of this life. Then we can “bear fruit in patience” (8.15).