WORRIES, RICHES AND WORLDLY PLEASURES RETARD SPIRITUAL MATURITY
PART 2 OF THE SOWER AND THE SEED
“The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” Luke 8:14 (New American Standard Bible)
How do worries, riches and worldly pleasures retard spiritual maturity?
Of course, we all know worries do us no good. And worldly pleasures, well, I suppose they can be a detriment to our spiritual growth. But are they really all bad? And riches, aren’t they a good thing?
Jesus said it, so it must be true. Not only worries but riches and worldly pleasures can and will retard spiritual growth and maturity.
The story about the sower and the seed is well-known. Jesus often taught in parables using elements of nature and other things the people of the day were familiar with. Still they did not usually understand what He was really talking about. Neither did His disciples for that matter. He had to explain every one to them privately before they got the message. But did they really get it even then?
How many times have we read Scripture and not understood the underlying message? Three of the Gospels relate this parable of the sower and the seed. I have read all three accounts so many times I wouldn’t even attempt to make an estimate. Yet when I read this passage again today, I saw something I had never seen before.
With the seed sown by the wayside, as we saw in the former post, once the devil snatched it away, the people were lost. That sown on rocky soil also never came to fruition. Salvation never took root. But that sown among the thorns, though worries and riches and pleasures of this life choked out the seed–the Word of God–the verdict was not that these people lost their salvation. Jesus said that they “bring no fruit to maturity”. Was there fruit? Evidently. Was it good fruit? We are not told that it was bad. What we do know is that the fruit did not mature. It never reached a useful state. You cannot eat unripe fruit without unpleasant consequences.
Have you ever wondered, as I have, why some Christians never seem to grow in faith? They seem to remain as immature children for years on end. They want to be spoon fed. They are easily offended. Their spiritual lives are shallow. After reading these verses again today, I began to wonder if worries and riches and the pleasures of the world are what is keeping them back from a deeper relationship with the Lord.
What exactly is worry?
When we worry about our circumstances, we become anxious as to the outcome. We become troubled, uneasy, and, if we allow worry to take complete hold, we can even be tormented by our problems. The King James Bible uses the word “cares” rather than worries. The definition of the Greek word for ‘cares’, according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, is distraction. Worry is certainly a distraction in life. It can also make us sick. But is that all worry is? Yes, I realize that is quite enough. But what worry truly is amounts to a lack of faith in God.
What are riches?
It should be obvious what riches are, right? According to the Strong’s Concordance this word means wealth (as fulness), (literally) money, possessions, (figuratively) abundance, richness, (specifically) valuable bestowment. So, riches are, well, riches. Then what is wrong with riches? We cannot live without money. And to have money is not a sin. But, like worry, riches can be a distraction. The more money people have, the more they worry about losing it, or how to invest it, or how to save it. Worry and riches are very closely connected. Does that mean we have to give all our money away and live like paupers. Not at all. We simply must not worry ourselves with trying to accumulate wealth for wealth’s sake. We need to learn how to let these things go and let the Lord direct our lives. Riches must not rule us. Rather, we must be in charge of whatever level of wealth (or lack of it) that we have. In other words, give it all over to the Lord and stop worrying.
What are worldly pleasures?
The Greek word used in Luke 8:14 means sensual delight, desire, lust (Strong’s Concordance). Now we begin to see what is wrong with worldly pleasures. Lust is a sin. The Bible talks about the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16) and tells us that it is not from the Father. What may seem momentarily as pleasure can quickly become a burden to our souls. Moses chose “to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). Worldly pleasures are passing pleasures. They do not last. And, again, they are a distraction from the things of God. They will also end up bringing more worry into our lives. There are everlasting pleasures in serving the Lord, pleasures that will never end. Psalm 16:11 says, “In Your right hand there are pleasures forever). Such pleasures are much more worthy of our pursuit.
If we want to live fruitful lives for the Lord, we must get rid of the thorns in our lives, get rid of the worries, riches and pleasures of this life, and tend to the development of mature fruit in our lives. Fruit that will feed others. Fruit that will bring us closer to the Lord. Fruit that will be sweet rather than sour, have great value to us and others. Fruit that will precede us into eternity. Mature fruit. Good fruit. A bountiful harvest.
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