Living a Fruitful Life: What Holds Us Back? Part 2Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
“Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants.”
In yesterday’s reflection, we examined two things that keep us from living a fruitful life, according to Jesus. First, we will be prevented from flourishing if we simply reject the Word of Jesus. Second, we will be held back from fruitfulness if we accept the Word temporarily, perhaps out of emotional excitement, but then turn from the Lord when our emotional state changes.
Today we look at one further condition that keeps us from living fruitful lives. This, I believe, is common among Christians today. It’s that which I personally find most challenging and debilitating to my faith. Perhaps that’s true for you too.
After describing what happens when the seed falls on the footpath, where it is consumed by birds, and on the rocks, where it grows for only a short time, Jesus mentions another kind of soil: “Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants” (8:7). Several verses later, he explains what he meant: “The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity” (8:14). There you go. That’s an accurate description of the church today. And that’s an accurate description of my own struggle as a Christian.
In the case of the seed sowed among the thorns, it takes root and grows. The plant that emerges from this seed is alive. But it does not mature, and it does not become fruitful. The Greek of Luke 8:14 uses a verb that is unique in the New Testament. It combines the verb “to bear fruit” with the verb “to accomplish or complete.” Thus, the plant that is being choked by weeds might even bear a little bit of fruit, but the fruit is not mature. The plant never fulfills its potential for fruitfulness.
I find it terribly easy to be one of these underdeveloped plants. Though I have been a Christian for almost half a century, I find my devotion to the Lord often compromised by “the cares and riches and pleasures of this life.” It’s not wrong to enjoy the good things of God’s creation, of course. But if I focus so much on these good things that I neglect the Lord, then the weeds will begin to choke my faith. Moreover, as someone who is prone to worry, I can let the “cares” of this life crowd out my faith. I can fret so much about problems that I fail to take them to the Lord in prayer. (Yes, I know this is illogical, but it’s how I’m wired.)
What I need is an honest, searching, Spirit-led examination of my life. I need the Lord to help me see which weeds are choking my life and keeping me from being fully fruitful. Then, by his grace, I need to weed the garden of my life. Perhaps you do too.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What are the things that tend to choke your faith and thus limit your fruitfulness? Is your growth as a flourishing plant being limited by cares, riches, or pleasures? Or some combination of the three? What helps you to see what is choking your faith? What helps you to weed the garden of your life?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, as you know, today’s biblical text hits me dead center. My fruitfulness in you is limited by the weeds that threaten to choke out its life. And even if they don’t kill me, they do keep me from bearing the mature fruit you have created me to bear. Forgive me, Lord!
Help me, I pray, to see with new clarity the weeds of my life. May I confess these to you with clarity and boldness, so as to receive your forgiveness and healing. Then, by your grace, help me to weed the garden of my life, so that I might be a fruitful plant. May you produce through me the fruit of your kingdom, for your purposes and glory. Amen.