“but the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Mark 4:19 (CSB)
Have you ever read a passage in the Bible or heard a timely message and thought, Wow, this is really gonna change my life, only to soon forget the impact of that moment and have your life not really change much at all?
I have. More than once.
And when the next “change my life” message comes along, I’m filled with new optimism that it’s for real this time. Without a little effort on my end, though, it typically goes the same way. From Jesus’ parable of the sower, Mark 4:19 says, “but the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
This well-known passage talks about the “seed” sown when people hear the Good News of God’s Kingdom. That seed has been sown in each of us who has heard the gospel. And it thrives based on the environment in which it grows. What we do in the moments after hearing God’s powerful Word can help cultivate “good ground” (Mark 4:8, CSB) as we trust Him to produce growth in us.
Reflect on some of the principles you’ve established for yourself. Maybe you always wake up at a certain time or you’re in a habit of reading your Bible daily. Perhaps you make it a practice to start a load of laundry every morning. Whatever those things are for you, they started as small ideas you allowed to blossom. You gave those “seeds” the proper environment, and they have become fruitful in your life. You didn’t just have the idea or inspiration and then move on to something else.
When the Spirit opens our hearts upon our first hearing of God’s Word, it has a place to flourish and become something wonderful in us. Too often, though, as we age in our faith, we get sidetracked by other things, many of which aren’t necessarily bad but are distracting. Admittedly, I’ve spent hours reading about home décor styles or income opportunities on days that I definitely didn’t give God that same amount of enthusiasm. Are either of those things bad? No, not inherently, but when they distract me from what God says or take my attention away from meditating on the most recent seeds He has given me, they become bad for me.
Other times, in our fast-paced, distraction-filled lives, we hear parts of God’s Word and acknowledge them but never really let them inside us. If we’re honest, we’ve all been there, and it’s just like God to know it would be a weakness many of us have, hence the parable of the sower. It gives us the encouragement we need to continue being fruitful.
Mark 4:20 says, “And those like seed sown on good ground hear the word, welcome it, and produce fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundred times what was sown” (CSB). One key phrase there is “welcome it.” Some translations say “receive” (KJV) or “accept” (ESV). Think about how it feels when someone welcomes you into their home. They invite you in, offer to hang up your coat, maybe provide a meal or coffee, and just spend time engaging you. It feels so nice to be loved that way!
When we welcome God’s Word, giving it time, space and priority, it’s an expression of love for Him and helps create the exact environment those seeds need to grow.
We can find beauty and fun in activities of the world without being distracted by them. I won’t pretend to know the exact formula for how to do this consistently, but I do know it starts with truly welcoming God’s Word and those messages inspired by Him. Somewhere in the midst of all the things, maybe we just need to sit and have a cup of tea with the last “change my life” seed He gave us. Welcome it, and watch it grow.
Lord, thanks for every seed You’ve sown in me. Help me to set my gaze upon You and truly welcome all You’re giving me so I can grow to be who You designed me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
1 John 2:17, “And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.” (CSB)
What are some areas that may be taking too much of your attention? Are there one or two things you can cut back on to make more time for welcoming God’s Word?
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