Jesus once spoke of a sower sowing seed. He told of some seed that fell among thorns and didn’t bring forth any fruit. When His disciples asked Him about it, He said,
18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
I read that again this afternoon and thought about it. He says that the lusts of other things choke the word. Is this why our lives are often so unfruitful? We seek God for the things. If He gives us enough money, nice enough clothes, a good marriage, well-behaved children, then we would be content.
But the problem is that we are in a continual search for more things, better things.
I don’t think that most readers of this blog are vulgarly materialistic. I don’t think that our desires are for a new car, designer clothes, the best delicacies, and diamonds on the soles of our shoes. But we all have those other “things” that we seek after.
Those desires become very acute when we lose some of the comforts of life. What about those in continual pain? What about irretrievable broken relationships? What about extreme poverty?
Perhaps it is loss of reputation. Someone has slandered and reproached us with such skill that our name has a question mark in the minds of those whom we loved dearly.
The hard facts of life in a cursed world often lead us into discouragement – perhaps even wondering if God is there at all. We live unclean lives among people with unclean tongues and long for something greater. But our idolatrous nature turns our longing into a desire for things – health, good food, sex, relationships, wisdom, good reputations – and we lose something very important about living a gospel centered life.
Happiness, contentment and joy will never come from things. What we all long for is God Himself.
If we search the scriptures to learn how to raise happy and well adjusted children, we will not find either God or happy and well-adjusted children.
If we search the scripture to learn how to have a successful relationship, we will fail. The lust for things chokes the word.
When we come to church to hear how to succeed at work, how to make friends, how to save money, how to save our marriage, how to …(the reader can fill in his own desires)… we will never find God, nor will we find what we seek.
Because of this, many fall away. Young people leave the church in droves. They heard how God was cool, awesome, and just so relevant and “now”. They were promised great marriages, great sex, great jobs – God wants them to be happy and well-adjusted.
And then the reality hit. The totally cute, God-centered man that they fell for isn’t what he appeared to be. That girl that the successfully wooed turned out to be human.Their reputation was shattered in college by reproach and lies. The job market collapsed.
What happens when you seek the things of this earth and those things disappear like soap bubbles on a sunny day?
Where is God when your life is constant physical pain? Where is God in the unemployment line? Where is God in the foreclosure notice? The divorce papers? What happened to all of the promises made by the soul-patched and skinny-jeaned youth pastors, signified by the purity rings and virginity pledges, and sung about by the dreamy Christian rock band of the day?
Jesus told us. The desires for something else choked the word of God. And now a question arises. Other than what? What is it that we are to desire above everything else? David answers this in Psalm 27:
4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.
God Himself. God is Abraham’s reward (Gen. 15:1). God is the portion of the saints.
I love the hymn that says, “The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegroom’s face”. God Himself is the pearl of great price that can only be obtained by selling all that one has.
It took Jacob many decades to learn this. Finally, when he was returning with four wives and twelve intolerable children to meet his greatest enemy, Esau, he wrestled with God and prevailed. He held onto God and cried “I will not let go until you bless me!”
From that day on he walked with a limp, but he held on to God.
From that day on, he was inflicted with misery after misery, but he held on to the Shepherd who guided him every day of his life.
When he met Esau, he gave flocks and herds to his offended brother. Esau said, “Keep them for yourself. I have enough” (Genesis 33:9). And Jacob responded, “Please receive this blessing for God has been favorable to me. I have enough” (Genesis 33:13).
In the English, both statements, “I have enough” look the same. But in the Hebrew they say different things. Esau says, “I have much!” But Jacob says, “I have everything!”
Esau’s mind was still on the world. God had given him many flocks, herds, servants, children, wives. But Esau didn’t have God Himself.
Jacob had all of the material goods, but this isn’t what he is referring to. He was able to be generous, because he had “everything”.
On this earth, we may have riches or poverty. We may have health or sickness. We may have a house of peace or a house of trouble. We may have good reputations, or men may speak evil of us for Jesus’ sake. But if we have Christ, we have everything.
There is nothing more. There is no more to be sought. The things of this world always prove as satisfying as cotton candy to a starving man. With Christ, we are full. Without Chirst, we have nothing, though we may inherit the whole world. With Christ, we abound as Paul did – even in a Roman prison (Phil. 4:18).
There may come a day soon when we could very well lose our current prosperity. We could lose our current status with the state. We might even be in fear of our lives. Millions all over the world have been driven from their homes, separated from their families, and killed by the sword for the sake of Christ and the gospel. But they have Christ. Things are not what they appear.
With Christ, we truly have everything and abound.
It depends on what you seek. If you seek the things, you might get them. But you will still be poor.
If you seek Christ, you may not get things, but you will be richer than you could have possibly imagined, for you will have God Himself.