“Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 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 (NIV)
The worries of this life; how quickly they can sprout up and sprawl out in our hearts. And Jesus says that this is dangerous, for the normal cares of day to day life have the potential to choke out the work of the word in our souls. If this is true in normal times, how much more then is it the case in the peculiar providences of God like a pandemic. People are anxious about their lives.
We have seen with our eyes and yes, felt within our hearts urgent, anxious concern. We wonder about our daily needs fearing that supplies could run out and we will be lacking the goods we view to be necessary. And Jesus teaches that this is dangerous for our hearts. If we don’t deal with these Word-choking weeds bringing them into submission to the promised care of our Father and the lordship of Jesus then our souls will become empty and barren. God desires us to be fruitful in every occasion of life granting us his Spirit so that we may yield love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). By God’s grace we need to weed our hearts of the worries of life so that:
Instead of the hoarding nature of selfishness, we display the giving nature of love (Heb 13:16).
Instead of anger over bare shelves, we show the joy of knowing our Father owns the cattle on a 1000 hills; indeed, the whole earth is his! (Ps 50:10, 24:1)
Instead of panic’s rule, we are governed and guarded by peace knowing along with David that we “have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Ps 37:25).
Instead of resentment’s bitterness, we experience the patience that restfully waits upon the Lord (Is 30:15 & 18) and bears with others in their burdens and weaknesses (Rom 15:1; Gal 6:2; Col 3:13).
Instead of adding to fear by passing along needless speculations and “what if” scenarios, we spread the kindness of a calm disposition and the goodness of truth and encouragement (Acts 27:13-26; Acts 15:32; Rom 15:4-5).
Instead of the terse speech and hardened spirit that difficult times can bring out, we display the gentleness of Christ by our care for those who are being worn down by fear and burdened with changes (Matt 11:28-30).
Instead of losing our heads in the fogginess of our times, let us show the clear headedness of a Spirit-wrought self-control (2 Tim 4:5).In all the changes and adjustments that we all are experiencing, let us manifest the faithfulness that holds to our unchanging confession (Rom 10:9; 1 Tim 3:16; Heb 10:23), confidence (Ps 46; Rom 8:26-39), and calling (Lk 9:23; Eph 4:1-6).
Pastor Robert Sheehan wrote, “Serenity of spirit in a world when men's hearts fail them for fear is a great witness to the gospel.” Brothers and sisters, let us watch out for worry’s weeds, dealing with them regularly and ruthlessly so that we may abound with fruitful living in difficult days.
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.