“Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants” (Lk.8:7). Jesus describes life among these thorns as a life being overtaken by the cares and pleasures of life — of which there are plenty all around us here in the West. Now rest assured, I’m not going to shame anyone for enjoying what you have been given.
But neither does it make sense to cover over this passage with some veneer because we don’t want to ask a few questions of ourselves. So rather than wade into the whole issue of “how much money can I spend on myself before I need to feel guilty?” let me just make two observations about these thorns.
First, we all know how to be self-indulgent (which is probably the thorny issue here). We have all given it a try — probably more than once. And frankly, it can feel really good. There is even something to be said for celebrating what we have been given. But there is also something wonderful to be had in learning how to give with joy. And every once in a while we need to stop and ask if we have known that joy any time recently; or how willing we might be to learn and practice that kind of joy? Can we actually make it as much a part of our lifestyle as our other pursuits? Those are good questions, and they don’t need to make us feel ashamed. They really can stir a longing in us to be more generous like our Heavenly Father. And that’s a good thing.
The second thing here is the observation that thorns are basically mistaken goals. Take the proverbial dad who works 70 hours a week to provide a good home, only to discover 20 years later that his wife wants a divorce because he is never home. Somehow he got so caught up in trying to make a life that he never had one.
What’s so important about this familiar story is that we live in a nation (U.S.) that makes a point of distracting us from life. We cultivate thorns here like they were prize orchids! And we applaud those who are so distracted they actually succeed in achieving their mistaken goal! How weird is that!?
So we just might want to back away for a few hours sometime to get alone with God and ask Him to reveal to us any ways in which we may have been caught up in all this rush we see all around us to become overrun by thorns. We need to be able to hear the seeds! And to nurture them in our heart. For our own sake, let us be careful and pay attention to what is actually growing in our soil.