“And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mt.13:22)
As Christians, our goal is to produce fruit for the kingdom; our goal is to bring our personal, individual lives in line with God’s truth and design for life on earth and do what we can to encourage all aspects and elements of life on a relational and corporate level to function according to God’s intended purpose and design. This is what it means to say (pray), “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt.6:10). Sadly, we are in a phase in which the concepts communicated in Scripture have been reduced to encouraging adages that help ME, as an individual, get through another week with a sense of personal fulfillment. The grander vision of advancing God’s kingdom on a cultural level seems to be missing from the agenda of the vast majority of professing Christians.
There are many details related to the reasons we fail to produce such fruit and in this section of the parable of the sower, Jesus refers to a distraction that prevents vast numbers of people from doing so. As with all those represented in this parable, these are people who have heard the word of the kingdom. The problem is not intended to be a poor representation of truth, it is the response to the truth that determines the outcome. The two distractions alluded to in this teaching are “the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth.” These two related distractions “choke the word.”
We must be careful as we consider this teaching. We are not to conclude that giving proper attention to the basic needs of life is being condemned. As Jesus taught in an earlier portion of the gospel of Matthew, “do not worry” (Mt.6:31, 34). “Worry” is a word of excess. It is to be so consumed with something that it becomes a blinding distraction that chokes out truth and the fruit that springs from such truth taking root in a properly prepared heart and mind. There are many things in “the world” to which we must give attention, and we are to do so according to their relative worth, consistent with God’s design, putting them in their proper place. This is to do so as an act of faith in God.
As far as relative worth is concerned, Jesus clearly declared, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Mt.6:33-34). This is a challenging teaching in a culture that places such high value on wealth and financial prosperity. It might sound harsh but vast numbers of professing Christians are unfruitful due to being consumed with the labors to support their material lifestyle. Again, owning possessions, laboring and earning money is not being condemned. Failing to seek first His kingdom and produce fruit for the kingdom because of one’s devotion to such things is a big problem.
Paul said it this way, “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2Ti.2:4). It’s one thing to give attention to the affairs of everyday life and another to be entangled by them. Are you entangled?