Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. – Matthew 13:5-7
There are four groups in the Parable of the Sower. The first is a group of people who don’t receive the word at all. They don’t claim to know God or even care to know Him. They are easy to spot. The last is a group of people that obviously love God and are productive in His kingdom. There is no doubt where their allegiance lies. Then, there are the middle two groups mentioned in the verses that I used for this morning’s devotional. They are the half consuming my mind as I write this morning.
I’m pretty sure everyone taking the time to read this is in one of the last three groups. I doubt that someone who doesn’t give a rip about God at all would take the time the read this. Assuming this is true, that puts you and I in one of the last three categories. We think we are Christians but have no root, we think we are Christians and the cares of this life are choking us, or we think we are productive Christians. Where would you categorize yourself right now?
Today is my birthday and I’m 45 years old. That sounds so crazy to me. I’ve been a Christian now for 29 of those years. Over the past decade or so, I’ve learned that I go in and out of these last two categories. I have to be honest about where I am with God. If I don’t know, I pray the Psalm 139:23-24 prayer. Most of the time, I know where I am and where I stand. I used to measure where I was in terms of how much I was doing for God. How much was I reading the Bible? How often was I going to church? How much am I praying? It seemed like if I wasn’t doing these things often, then I wasn’t where I needed to be and wasn’t doing what I needed to do. Now, I measure where I am in terms of How much I’m enjoying just being with Him and just being His. Like, right now as I’m writing, I don’t want to leave this sense of being right there with Him in His Presence. I measure it in terms of just overall contentment with where He has chosen to place me right here, right now in life. If I’ve truly placed all things in His hands . . . whom shall I fear? What reason could I possibly have to be worried?
The problem you and I have is that we hardly ever rate ourselves poorly. Now, there are these exceptions of genuinely saved people who rate themselves poorly all the time and never find any positives . . . that has to stop as well. But, for the most part, in my experience, we tend to gravitate towards granting ourselves immunity from any kind of negativity. We do the same for others we love and respect. A man can be a flat-out premeditated murderer, and yet someone who loves him will say, “He is a good man with a good heart.” I haven’t been to a funeral yet where the person buried was described as less than a good person who deserves Heaven. Yet, the Bible flat out tells us that there are no good people. All of us like sheep have gone astray. What would possibly make you and I believe that we are incapable of pride, greed, malice, and a multitude of other sins growing in our hearts?
One out of the twelve closest followers of Jesus cared more about money than about Him. He literally sold Him out. Half of the virgins waiting on the Bridegroom didn’t take care of their lamps and missed out on the actual wedding. There was this one guy who was actually at the wedding. Everyone there, including him, must have thought he was meant to be there. Yet, the king asked him straight up, “How did you get in here without having your wedding garment?” (Matthew 22:12). The man was dumbfounded. Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 by all appearances seemed totally legit. Yet, they dropped dead at Peter’s feet because Satan had filled their hearts to lie to the Holy Spirit. Could that be us? Is it possible that you and I could lie to the Holy Spirit right now about where we stand with God?
Oh Lord! Many are invited, but few are chosen. These are Your words. I don’t want the cares of this life to choke out Your word that lives inside of me. I don’t want to go through life believing everything is ok when it isn’t. Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know what I am thinking. If there be any wicked way in me, show me the way everlasting. Grant me a heart that wants to follow Your way above all else. Help me to remain on the narrow path that leads to life. As You have loved me and given Yourself to me, help me to love You back and give myself to You. May I hide myself in You for the rest of my days. Let me be a tree that produces a hundred-fold for You, my God and my salvation. Amen.