Matthew 13:18-23

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:18-23

Now we hear the meaning of the parable of the sower. There are four reactions to the seeds which have been freely planted. A lack of understanding. A lack of commitment. A lack of focus and a surplus of misplaced priorities. The presence of understanding, willingness, and action.

As I shared on Monday, for the longest time I would hear this parable and judge myself, “Which soil am I?” “Which soil do I want to be?” The first question was hard to answer, the second was obvious. I want to be good soil. I want to be productive soil. Who wouldn’t want that? So that leaves me wondering what gets in the way of that…and that is the power of the parable.

A lack of understanding. Life is complicated and full of mystery. The more we learn, the more we realize we need to learn. We associate understanding with “mastery” and the end zone keeps backing up. It’s like having an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other, each trying to convince us to follow. Then Mark Twain reminds us, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” I think we all understand enough to figure out what the next right thing to do is.

A lack of commitment. Initial eagerness followed up with running away from resistance. As I write these words, early in the morning, I am wrestling with whether or not to go walking when I’m done writing. I know how helpful walking is. I know that it isn’t so bad once I get going. I know it always marks the beginning of a good day. But my resistance to doing what is good for me is fierce. There is a reason why we refer to the easy way out as the “easy” way. But life isn’t easy. It isn’t supposed to be easy. Persistence and commitment is much more difficult than faltering and fickleness but it is always worth it if seeking a meaningful end.

A lack of focus and a surplus of misplaced priorities. The specific distractions are the “cares of the world” and the “lure of wealth.” We certainly have plenty of both of these cooking in our lives. Certainly, at an emotional level, they go hand in hand.

The newspaper this morning listed the eleven Houstonians who made the Forbes list of the richest Americans. John Rockefeller was the first recorded billionaire in the United States. When asked “How much money is enough?” He famously responded, “Just a little bit more.” My sense is that everyone on that list might say the same thing. But don’t think that any of us are immune from seeking security in an insecure world by identifying ourselves by what we earn or what we have accumulated. If we let it, “more” will always be more captivating than “enough”.

Which then leaves us with the good soil to which we aspire. On a daily basis, from momentous decisions to momentary impulses, Jesus invites us to learn, to commit, to focus, and to act. We might find it tough to stay there forever and always but we can certainly be there right now. So it is time that I go for a walk this morning.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, the worries and cares of life distract us so easily. We are bothered by things far beyond our control or capacity. We so easily lose focus, we quit too early, we work too hard at the wrong things. We need your help. Don’t give up on us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


3 Responses to “Matthew 13:18-23”

  1. Dave Armstrong Says:

    Interesting that you are now peddling women’s underwear!! Did books prove unprofitable? Maybe the elders need to consider raising your salary! Thank you for the Mark Twain quote!

  2. revkerry Says:

    Women’s underwear? I don’t know where that came from unless WordPress adds advertisements to the page where you read the devotions. If that is the case, it is out of my control. Not that I’m not in favor of people wearing underwear. Hygiene and all.

  3. Ray Kilminster Says:

    Parables such as the seeds and rich men/eye of the needle always make me take a second look. For instance, the biggest philanthropists in the US are also the richest. Take for example Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates, George Soros. I think I’m correct in saying that Warren Buffet gives 95% of his earnings to charity and the Gates aren’t far behind. There seed did indeed fall on good soil and bore fruit with yields of a hundred fold….and most of their fruit went to feed the needy. They are truly blessed.

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