Luke 8:13-14 (NIV): Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
There will always be those with hard, packed-down hearts that the gospel cannot penetrate. Those break God’s heart, because their stubbornness will ultimately end them up in hell. There will always be those who have soft, fertile hearts that have been receptive to God’s careful preparation for the seed of the gospel, and who mature and reproduce themselves many times over. These gladden God’s heart, because they will spend all eternity in His presence.
But the most heartbreaking to God are those with shallow and with weed-infested hearts. The gospel seed takes root in these lives and begins to grow, but their growth is cut off before it really gets started.
Those with a shallow faith turn away when life gets tough. It doesn’t even have to be persecution that causes them to fall away! Often it is the normal effects of living in a sin-damaged world. They do not grow deep, and somehow feel that God is obligated to keep trouble far from their door. When trouble arises (and, as Jesus said, “In this world you WILL have trouble” – John 16:33), they, in their shallow faith, decide that perhaps faith in God is not all that they believed that it would be. They turn back into the darkness, disenchanted not by God’s unfaithfulness, but by their wrong expectations.
For others it is the distractions of the world that cause the break. These folks begin with great excitement, and show strong initial growth. But before long, they are lured away and distracted by the things of the world. Sometimes it is worry and fear that shoves God out of first place in their hearts. Sometimes it is entertainments that distract them. Sometimes it is the pursuit of wealth, power, and stuff that becomes the god of their life. When any of these things are allowed to take first place in a person’s heart, it drains the spiritual life out of them. Their faith remains a pitiful, small thing; an add-on to the other things that have become more important to them. If not corrected, those “more important” things will overwhelm their faith entirely, snuffing out their light, and leaving them just as lost as before.
When a person comes to God for salvation, HE must become and remain the center of their life. Faith in God that is carefully cultivated will deepen the soil of a person’s heart, giving strong, disaster-proof roots space to grow. And, just like in any garden, the weeds of distraction and other gods must be ruthlessly uprooted before they have a chance to start competing for the nutrients of life. If a believer will devote themselves completely to God, He will work in their lives to help them to grow straight, strong, and healthy, so that they will be fruitful all the days of their lives.
Father, it is so easy to become distracted, so easy to become discouraged with all that is going on in our lives. Help us all, Lord, to love You so profoundly that there is no room in our hearts for anything but You. Amen.