When these passages speak of those who fall away quickly, they describe them as having “no root in themselves.”
I assume that this means something like having no testimony, or, at least, having an inadequate testimony.
We should always be working strengthen our personal convictions, to send our roots deeper into the soil. It surprises me — it surprised me as a bishop — to see how many people fail to do that, for lengthy (and often lethal) periods.
I’m struck by the sad comment in Luke 8:14, about those whose “fruit does not mature.”
But, by contrast (8:15), those who remain faithful, “hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
Patience, I think, is absolutely key.
Compare Matthew 5:15; 7:2; 10:26; 13:12
At least three quite distinct thoughts are contained in these verses:
1. Our light should be shown to the world. Or, rather, his light should be manifest in the world through and by us. There’s no point in kindling a lamp and then covering it so that it’s not visible.
2. All secret acts will eventually be made known. So, if we presume that we can get away with things that won’t be seen, we deceive ourselves. No secret will remain a secret forever. God sees and knows all.
3. Those who refuse to hear and to heed will, with time, lose the capacity to do so.
The growth of the Kingdom of God goes largely unnoticed, and its importance almost completely unrecognized.
It grows quietly and matures slowly.
Come harvest time, though, and the significance of the Church and the Restoration will be unambiguously apparent.
There is probably no more eloquent commentary on this parable than John Newton’s hymn lyrics — remember the great John Newton, who also composed “Amazing Grace,” drawn from his own dramatic autobiography? — which were set to the wonderful music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen” (from Die Zauberflöte) and which once appeared (but no longer appears) in the Latter-day Saint hymnal:
1 Though in the earthly church below
The wheat and tares together grow;
Jesus ere long will weed the crop,
And pluck the tares, in anger up.
2 Will it relieve their horrors there,
To recollect their stations here?
How much they heard, how much they knew,
How long among the wheat they grew!
3 Oh! this will aggravate their case!
They perish under means of grace;
To them the word of life and faith,
Became an instrument of death.
4 We seem alike when thus we meet,
Strangers might think we all were wheat;
But to the Lord’s all-searching eyes,
Each heart appears without disguise.
5 The tares are spared for various ends,
Some, for the sake of praying friends;
Others, the Lord, against their will,
Employs his counsel to fulfill.
6 But though they grow so tall and strong,
His plan will not require them long;
In harvest when he saves his own,
The tares shall into hell be thrown.