“And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word,
(Mark 4:18 NASB)
but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
(Mark 4:19 NASB)



Thorns are rather prickly things and are a nuisance when trying to work in the garden. Thorns appear on several occasions in the Bible. Jesus wears a crown of thorns on his head when he is being led to his crucifixion. Paul refers to his "thorn in the flesh," and here Jesus' parable speaks of seeds that are sown among thorns. The only time I've heard of thorns being a good thing is when they've been used as a defensive barrier, but even in this instance they are strategically placed to inflict pain. In this case the thorns are having a direct effect on the seeds. The seeds are not growing. Jesus goes on to give a definition of the thorns -- for they are "the worries of the world, "the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things." What an amazing definition of thorns. And it is these things which make the seeds unfruitful.



Today much of America glued to some form of media regarding the mega storm Sandy, or the upcoming elections. I think that these two items could certainly be included in the "worries of the world." However, I'm not sure that it's the big things that choke us up spiritually, but rather the small "worries of the world" that choke us up on a daily basis. When we do not trust in God the "worries of the world" will loom larger and larger and will keep us from trusting in him. We must learn to trust him in the big and little things of this world, allowing him to teach us that we can grow with him. As long as we hold onto the things of this world, as long as we desire to be the ones in control, nothing will blossom.

The second thorn is huge. "The deceitfulness of riches" can drive many people crazy. Somehow we have been fooled into believing that money will resolve all of our problems. There are even Christians who preach and teach about health and wealth. Is that really what God intended for his people? His followers in the early centuries of the church were certainly not all healthy and wealthy. All of the original apostles were killed because of their faith except for John. Doesn't sound too healthy to me! But these people grew spiritually and their treasures were laid up in heaven, not here on earth. We, too, are called to lay up eternal treasures and to not be hung up on the wealth of this world. The wealth of this world will lead us down paths of destruction. Jesus knew this!
Finally, the last thorn is a desire "for other things." There can be a whole list of "other" things, but I believe that anything that distracts from what God wants for us is "other" things. They can be good things. They can be people, or relationships, or sports, or cultural events -- but if they distract us from God, they are "other" things, and they will be like thorns that will choke us and keep us from growing spiritually.

I'm afraid that a lot of seed has been falling in among the thorns. Why? Because I think that we may have an overabundance of thorns these days. God wants us to grow -- to thrive -- to soar with him spiritually but the thorns of life have wrapped themselves around us and are tying us down. Maybe we need to get out the weed killer and get rid of those thorns so that we can be set free to grow into the people of God that he desires for each and every single one of us.



Lord, please help me be aware of any thorns in my life that may be keeping me from growing in you. Amen.


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