Throughout the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing some thoughts about preparing the soil of our 8 to 15 (8 to 15 refers to the 8 to 15 people God has already put in your life for you to be light of God’s love to). We are ramping up to Easter (4/20) and we want to have 420 people here on that day. As much as it depends on us, we want to have done everything we can so that Mark 4:20 is the result of that day: “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
Today we are looking at the 3rd kind of soil that the seed falls into. The first soil was the path, and we talked about the amount of work it takes to work that soil up. Then we talked about the rocky soil, and what needs to be done to that soil. The soil we’re looking at today is the thorny, weedy soil.
“Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.” – Mark 4:7
When we bought our house, there was a fenced off section in the corner that I think used to be a dog run. I think that based on the holes that had been dug under parts of the fence. But, when we moved in, that area was over grown with blackberry vines. Mostly, there were some dandelions in there as well. It was an unusable part of the yard for us, because it was so covered in blackberry vines that you couldn’t even get in there.
So, I had to go through the work of pulling the vines up by hand. I spent hours pulling up vines. And got pricked quite a few times. It was hard work. But, now we have use of that part of the yard. I also discovered a little oak tree that was struggling to survive within the blackberries. it was only about 5 inches tall. It was most likely planted there by a squirrel – who dug up the soil and burried the acorn there – tilling the small section of soil where he planted the seed.
Since, I come from the land of Oak trees, I decided it would be nice to leave the tree. And, now after a couple of years, it is actually starting to look like a tree. It probably wouldn’t have amounted to much if I hadn’t pulled out the blackberries. But now, it has a chance to survive.
“Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” Mark 4:18-19
The more I read this passage, the more principles I pull from it for us as a church. While this is a parable about the soil in which the Gospel is planted, it’s also about the work that is done in the life of the believer as the seed of the gospel grows into a plant. From what I can tell, that’s what this part of the parable is talking about. Jesus is talking about the seed that falls among the thorns. They hear the word, but worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and desires for other worldly things (the thorns) choke the work so the plant doesn’t produce any fruit.
What’s the solution?
There are two that I see. The first is to pull the weeds before we plant anything in the soil. If you till up a dandelion root, do you know what happens? All the chunks that you broke up while tilling grow into new dandelions. If you pull up the dandelion, that doesn’t happen. Which is easier, pulling up one dandelion or a hundred?
Since I was the weird kid who liked to garden, I was also the weird kid that observed other people’s gardens in town. There were some that amazed me. The ones that were perfectly kept with perfect rows and big plants. The others that amazed me were the ones that people would work up the soil, plant the seeds and then just let the weeds grow in the plants. The crops would never do well. All that work was for nothing. What was the point?!
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely hated weeding as a kid. I still don’t like it all that much. But, if you’re going to the work to plant a garden, don’t you want the fruit of the garden to eat?
This is the second thing I see. If we are going to go to the trouble of working the soil and planting the garden, once the seed of the gospel is planted in someone and we see it take root, we have to keep the weeds out so they can grow into a fruit producing plant.
There are so many ideas and philosophies floating around the world today. It doesn’t take much to find weeds of the world growing up around you. This is true for all believers, and especially for new believers. We need to be involved in discipling new believers so we can help them identify the weeds as they start to grow and then to pull them up while they’re easy to get out of the ground. There are many deceitful weeds that can come along and choke out the seed of the gospel. We have to be diligent at removing the weeds as they come along, or the seed that grew up will never produce fruit.
What about your weeds?
This is also a good reminder to check our own lives for weeds we’ve let grow into our own lives. Are there things of this world that are choking out the Gospel in our own lives? Perhaps the biggest weed of all is ourselves. Are we letting our selfishness and selfish agendas trump the Gospel in our lives? Our own self could be the thing that is keeping the Gospel from producing fruit. And until we get out of our own way, we’ll never see God do much in our lives. The Gospel is about submission and humility. Until we submit to it and walk humbly with our God, the Gospel will never really take root in our lives.
Start by pulling up the weeds. Maintain the plant by keeping the garden free of weeds so it can produce fruit.