A few nights ago, I followed through on something that I had thought about doing for some time. I had a desire to read through the gospels and just write down the different commands of Jesus. I went downstairs to our second bedroom Saturday evening to do this and started with the gospel of Mark. As I was going through the gospel and reading the words of Christ, I got hung up in Mark 4. The Parable of the Sower is a story that I am so familiar with that I can read it without really taking it in. This time though, God really opened my eyes to something I hadn’t noticed before.
I have been really challenged lately to figure out what it looks like to honor God with money. I have been reading an amazing book call Radical by David Platt, which does a great job of illustrating the need for us in the church to shake off the cultural norms that have clung to us and really pursue the mission of Christ. In the book, Platt contrasts the church’s response to certain sins that are considered culturally okay (like pursing the American dream and materialism) with the response to sins that are not culturally accepted (such as adultery).
It is really heart-breaking to think how I along with so many other believers have pursued wealth, used it to feed our constant desire for more and never stopped to question if it aligns with the Bible. We turn a blind eye to others using wealth for ignoble purposes and for individual comforts because we don’t want to give up our lifestyles and pursuits either. Maybe without even realizing it, we have embraced something that is in complete contrast to Jesus’ commands and what he demonstrated in His life. In Luke 9:58, Jesus says, “the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
In the Parable of the Sower, there are four possible outcomes for the seeds. First, the seed never sprouts because the enemy snatches the word as soon as it is sewn. Second, the seed sprouts but quickly dies because the roots don’t go deep enough. Third, the seed sprouts and grows but never bears fruit because it is distracted and deceived by the things of the world. Fourth, the seed sprouts, grows, and produces a crop – thirty, sixty, or a hundred fold. As I was reading through this the other night, the words describing the third seed hit me pretty hard: “still others…hear the word but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”
Growing up, this parable always seemed to represent lost people, at least the first three soils. As I read it the other night though I had to ask myself the question, can I really say that I am the fourth soil? Am I producing a crop – even a small crop? Or, have I become unfruitful because I am distracted by the troubles of life, deceived by the call of wealth, distracted by my desire for other things like comfort and security or recognition?
The description of the fourth soil is so simple yet seems so difficult for many American Christians. The word says, “Others hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop.” Funny it doesn’t say, “Others hear the word, accept it, and join a church.” God has a plan for us all to be used in seeing His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Producing a crop, bearing fruit, doesn’t happen in my life if I continue to be more concerned with my own comfort, happiness, and blessing. It happens when I forsake a desire for all things apart from Christ and Him glorified.
God is certainly shining the light on this area of my life and now I need to figure out how to really be obdient. My prayer for me and the church at large is that God would shake me loose from focusing on my own struggles and worries, that He would open my eyes to the deceitfulness of wealth, and that He would turn my desires to be only for Him.