uses the parable of the sower to warn us of three classic reasons why the “seed” God has sown into our hearts does not flourish and bear fruit:
- It is snatched away by the evil one for lack of understanding
- It withers away for lack of roots
- It is choked out of us for love of the world
How can we prevent that from happening to what God has sown in our hearts?
First, from Jesus himself: if we want the seed sown in us to be snatch-proof we must learn to hear and understand God’s Word properly (Mt13.23). We must read it, pay close attention to it, learn from it, inwardly digest it, just as that lovely Anglican Collect says (BCP 97, BAS 391). Set and build all your understanding on it because God’s Word is truth (John17.17), truth is in Jesus (Eph4.21) and there is no condemnation in Him (Ro8.1). Which is all contrary to what the evil one would have us believe in his attempts to snatch the good seed of abundant, fruitful life in Jesus out of our hearts. He will try and get us to question and misunderstand God’s Word just as he did in the Garden of Eden—“Did God actually say” (Gen3.1) thus and so? We must “Resist the devil,” as St James wrote, “and he will flee from you.” Instead, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James4.7-8). The best way to do that is to grow and strengthen your understanding of God and His Kingdom.
As your understanding grows and you make yourself available for what God wants to do in you through his Word which, as He says in Isaiah 55
shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (V11)
God’s purposes and success will be accomplished in you and me and we will bear fruit. Guaranteed!
Second, how to wilt-proof yourself. First, see above. Then there are more strategies in today’s readings. For example, start walking—in the Spirit, that is—not in the flesh, mind. No. Living according to the flesh—in other words, living primarily for and through our bodily appetites— leads to wilting and withering bodies, minds and spirits, death, hostility to God, inability to submit to God’s law or to please God (Ro8.6-7). Setting our minds on the things of the Spirit, on the other hand, leads to freedom from sin and death (v2), and life and peace (v6).
How does one walk in the Spirit?
- Consult Him regarding all life’s decisions. He will always point you to and lead you to Jesus. He will never contradict Scripture.
- Pray for more Gifts of the Spirit to be activated in you (see 1Cor12-14, Ro12.6-8 and Eph4.11-13).
- Do some self examination every now and then to see that the Fruit of the Spirit is active in your life (Gal5.22-23)
Finally, dealing with choking hazards of “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches” (Mt13.22): I believe the fundamental and foundational first step to free ourselves from these threats to our spiritual growth is to be obedient with our tithe (Mal3.8-10)—not a watered down so-called “Anglican tithe” of 5% mind you (which is a contradiction in terms)—but the full 10%—off the top—of gross income—to our local church (offerings for charitable causes and other extras come after that tithe). Faithful, accurate tithing opens the windows of heaven, causes blessing to pour down and is a key spiritual discipline which is a practical demonstration of where we’ve set our minds, in whose hands we’ve placed our worldly cares and that we’ve determined to resist the deceitfulness of riches by acknowledging The One from whom all riches come.
Practice these three steps and, with the Holy Spirit’s help, what God has sown in our hearts will remain snatch-proof, wilt-proof and choke-free in