Let us examine the third soil of the heart and what happens when the Word of God is sown into it.
And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. (Matthew 13:7, 22, NKJV)
Other seed of the same kind fell among thorn plants, and the thistles grew and pressed together and utterly choked and suffocated it, and it yielded no grain. And the ones sown among the thorns are others who hear the Word; Then the cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless. (Mark 4:7, 18-19, AMP)
And other seed fell in the midst of the thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it off. And as for what fell among the thorns, these are the people who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked and suffocated with the anxieties and cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not ripen (come to maturity and perfection). (Luke 8:7, 14, AMP)
In this third soil of the heart, the seed of the Word of God fell among the seeds of thorns and both began to grow in this fertile soil. This word “thorn” in the Greek means a thorny plant, a bramble bush, briers, and thistles. It is essentially a prickly weed.
Thorns were not a part of God’s original creation as they came from the disobedience of Adam and the curse of sin upon God’s creation. After Adam sinned, thorns began to spring up on the earth, but they also began to multiply in the hearts of people. Thorns are an obstacle to the way of God in our lives. A heart that produces thorns and thistles is worthless in its fruit before God.
Characteristics of Thorny Weeds
Physical thorns have sharp points that cause pain. These thorny weeds rob the good plants of moisture, light, nutrients and space. Weeds are very aggressive in growth and reproduce rapidly. It is estimated that a single plant of pigweed can produce over 120,000 seeds, and a single plant of mullein weed can produce 223,200 seeds! These figures are staggering as to how many weeds can multiply from one simple plant.
Also the longevity of the seed that weeds produce is amazing. The seed of the curly dock is viable for 80 years once it is sown into the ground, and the seed of the black mustard weed is viable for 50 years once it is sown.
Weeds are not only prolific seed producers capable of quick reproduction, but have an amazing resilience to survive and grow even in the harshest environmental conditions. Weeds have deep roots, and are very tolerant and can thrive in adverse growing conditions. Weeds will out compete almost all native vegetation, as they have an earlier growth in the spring and get a head start on moisture and nutrients in the soil. Weeds are masters of survival and quickly can dominate an entire landscape. Weeds cannot be ignored, as they do not suddenly go away, but spread like wildfire if not aggressively dealt with.
There are even weeds that are classified as noxious weeds by the government because they are injurious to agricultural and horticultural crops, livestock, and humans. Noxious weeds can create an undesirable habitat for plants and insects, and even eliminate certain species because of their control of the environment. These weeds can increase wind and water erosion, and alter nutrient cycling.
Weeds can also be carriers of toxins, disease and pests that can destroy crops and livestock. Government agencies work aggressively to control these noxious weeds from causing too much damage as they realize the devastating effects weeds can have on a community, state and nation. Weeds dramatically affect the amount of crops the ground produces. It is estimated 15-20% of the world’s potential crop production is lost annually because of weeds. This amount would be doubled without the use of pesticides and herbicides.
Israel in Bible times had a great variety of these thorny weeds throughout its land. In fact travelers called the Holy Land a “land of thorns.” Giant thistles, growing to the height of a man on horseback, frequently spread over regions once rich and fruitful. Many of the most interesting historic spats and ruins in Israel are rendered almost inaccessible by thickets of fiercely armed buckthorns. Entire fields are covered with the troublesome creeping stems of the spinousononis thorny weeds, while the bare hillsides are studded with the dangerous capsules of the puliuris and tribulus weeds. Prickly roses abound on the lower slopes of Hermon, while the sub-tropical valleys of Judea are choked up in many places by the thorny lycium. There are more than 125 species of thorns and thistles that are found throughout Israel and some are beautiful to the eye, hiding their dangerous and invasive qualities.
The same characteristics of thorny weeds in the physical realm also apply to the mental, emotional and spiritual realm of the heart. Thorns can grow rapidly in the soil of the heart and continue to thrive for an entire lifetime. Thorns can take over the environment controlling the amount of light, truth, and life that abounds in the heart. Thorns can control the spiritual food that the heart feeds off and the boundaries of the heart in thought, word and action.
Thorns are very resilient and can come back again and again with relentless fury to make their permanent home in our hearts. Thorns are carriers of spiritual disease and allow rebellion, lust, and idolatry to ride into the human heart. Thorns hinder the heart from producing fruit for God and good works that glorify Him.
A thorn is a symbol of the flesh that God is not enough for me, and I need to revel in the ways of the world. Thorns are symbolic of a lack of trust in God and a lack of faith in God’s faithfulness to His Word. Thorns will consume our love for God, replacing them with an idol to devour our thoughts and emotions. Thorns always choke and suffocate the Word of God in the heart and do not allow it to come to full fruition. Thorns are a detour, a wrong path to follow, and have severe consequences for the health of our heart.
Thorny seeds are always lurking, ready to sprout into action, to take control of the soil of the heart. Since the fall of Adam when sin poured into the very nature of the human race, thorns have been natural and indigenous to the soil of the heart. For most of us, thorns have been growing in our hearts all our life until we met the Master Gardener, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to uproot these thorns for they were not planted by our Heavenly Father. Thorns are very much at home in the heart as their seeds are scattered in the soil of every human heart on earth.
Sooner or later we will all face the question “What are we going to do about these prickly, thorny weeds that want to dominate the vineyard of our hearts?” What are our weed management and control policies when it comes to our own heart? Is our heart overgrown with weeds that our suffocating the spiritual condition of our heart? We cannot ignore these prickly weeds if we want our hearts to reflect the glorious image of our Lord.
Jesus Christ is the only solution for these noxious weeds for only through Him can we overcome these thorny weeds and prevent them from becoming the natural habitat of our heart. These prickly weeds must be cut down by the sword of the spirit and uprooted daily by the renewing of our minds to the Word of God. We must boldly proclaim that the soil of our heart has been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ and the living waters of His Word and these thorny weeds will no longer contaminate, control or grow in our hearts. We pledge to be ever vigilant on our weed watch over our hearts and aggressively uproot any thorn when it begins to show its ugly head.
Thorns do not like to give up their space and soil to anything. Thorns are fiercely loyal to sin, rebellion and disobedience and get nourishment from our own sin nature if they are allowed to run wild in the heart. Thorns want to control the landscape of the heart and these prickly weeds will consume all life out of the soil if we allow them. These thorny weeds can overshadow, crowd and choke any plant of godliness in our heart.
In the parable, the two plants, one from the seed of God’s Word, and the other from the seed of the enemy, began to grow and spring up at the same time. One will live and one will die in the soil in the heart. They cannot both co-exist and bring forth fruit. One will flourish and one will wither. One will blossom and one will wilt.
The Word of God began to grow in this soil of the heart and a beautiful, tender plant was arising and reaching towards the heavens. However, the thorny weeds were rapidly sprouting up right alongside this tender plant. The prickly weeds multiplied and began to crowd the small plant aggressively invading its space. The thorns entangled around the plant and grew above and around it, blocking the rays of sunshine from heaven and taking vital soil nutrients and moisture from the new plant. The thorns continue to rapidly press against the plant and soon it cannot take in the sunshine, moisture, oxygen and nutrients essential to its survival. Engulfed in the shadow of the thorns, the plant begins to choke as the slow process of suffocation starts. The growth suddenly stops and the tender plant is fighting for its very life.
The thorns stranglehold on the plant strengthens, and the plant is choked more aggressively, as it is suffocating by the compression of the thorny weeds. The new plant is gasping for oxygen. It is struggling to receive sunshine from heaven, and is dying of thirst as it is robbed of life-giving water from the soil. The thorns are multiplying at a staggering rate, and the tender plant is being overwhelmed and slowly killed by suffocation, lack of care and starvation. Finally the plant is crushed under the weight of the thorns and all potential for fruit vanishes as it withers and dies. It is killed by strangulation and an aggressive invasion of its life support system. May God help us to never allow these thorns to suffocate the Word of God from our hearts!
The third soil of the heart allows the thorns to win the race for the human heart. Never underestimate the power of the thorns to choke the growth of the Word of God from the soil of the heart. We cannot serve our God, love our Lord and follow His will if we allow thorns to dominate the landscape of our heart. Thorns are always ready to corrupt our heart and to destroy our God-given calling. We must have daily weed control when it comes to the heart, or we will be barren and fruitless in the service of our God.
When we look at all three accounts of this parable as a whole, we see five specific thorns that Jesus warned us about that will keep us from being fruitful for our God. These five thorns have an amazing ability to suffocate and choke the good seed sown in our hearts rendering it ineffective to change and transform our lives. These five thorns are some of the most destructive things on earth to the heart and are five agents of sin with the assignment to destroy every remnant of the Word of God from the heart. These five secret emissaries of the Evil One are masterfully deceptive and are the means to seduce the heart into their tempting snare. Jesus set forth each of these thorns by name so we are not ignorant of their existence, nature and power.
To ignore these thorns is to set the heart in grave danger of being invaded by the Enemy to be used by him at His will. Thorns are one of the great weapons of the devil to ensnare the heart in his tangled web and devour it. He arranges the world system and orchestrates images for our eyes to see and words for our ears to hear that promote the rapid growth of thorny weeds in the heart. The devil is not only throwing thorny seeds into our hearts if we let him, but he also has many fertilizer and growth supplements for these thorns. If we allow his images, words and thoughts to settle in our hearts, we are fertilizing the prickly weeds so they will explode in growth and spread into every corner of our lives. We must identify and examine each one of these five thorns so we can uproot all of these dangerous weeds from our hearts.
The First Thorn: The Cares of This World
The first thorn is “the cares of this world” (Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:19). The Greek word for “cares” in these verses means an anxious worry that distracts and divides the mind. It is to be mentally distressed, agitated and troubled with anxiety. It is a brooding fear that brings with it a feeling of apprehension, uneasiness and dread. It describes the mental state of being pulled apart in different directions. It is to have a worrisome expectation and aching sense of grief of some danger or misfortune. These anxious cares and worries always cause one to have a divided heart that is distracted and pulled in a wrong direction away from God. These anxious worries and cares are indicative of a heart that does not trust God.
There is a very interesting etymology of the word “worry” from the Old High German word “wurgen” which meant “to strangle.” The Old English word meant “to strangle or choke” and was further defined as to grasp by the throat and lacerate with the teeth, or to injure and kill by biting and shaking. It is like a dog that attacks an animal by taking it in its mouth and violently shaking it. This is what worry does to the heart. Worry strangles and chokes the life out of you and figuratively grasps the heart by the throat and does not let it breathe. Worry lacerates the heart as it takes it in its mouth and violently shakes it bringing it into a state of hopeless confusion and utter calamity.
It is enlightening to look at the usage of this word in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, as it gives us further understanding into the biblical meaning of this word.
I will also appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed (merimnao in Septuagint and ragaz in Hebrew) again, nor will the wicked afflict them anymore as formerly. (2 Samuel 7:10, NAS)
The Hebrew word ragaz means to shake, tremble, agitate, disturb, and provoke. It is to be shaken and disturbed by intense emotion because of specific circumstances. When God planted His people and they obey Him, there are no thorns of disturbance and agitation that arise in their hearts. They are not shaken by the enemy or put into bondage by fear. No circumstance, problem, or evil can disturb the heart. The wicked cannot afflict the heart of the person who is planted firmly in God.
For I confess my iniquity: I am full of anxiety (merimnao in Septuagint) because of my sin. (Psalm 38:18, NAS)
Unrepentant sin is a major cause of anxiety in the heart. Sin is the fuel of these thorny cares and is a formidable opponent of a fruitful heart that will glorify the Lord of the Harvest. Sin lurks within, ready to produce a bumper crop of thorns to reproduce its kind in the heart, suffocating the seed of the Word of God. The thorns of sin agitate the heart, robbing it of peace, and strangling the heart with fear and anxiety. A heart full of thorns has lost its trust in God. It has abandoned faith in God’s love, grace and faithfulness. The thorns of sin multiply like wild fire and consume the heart with its fruit of fear. Jesus Christ crushed the power of sin and through Him we can thwart the thorns of sin from reigning in our hearts. Anxiety, worry and fear are sin, and should have no place in the heart of a Christian.
When we examine this first thorn of “the cares of this world,” the Greek word for “world” is aion. Remember aion means “age” which is all that exists in the world at any point of time and the current state of the world’s affairs. It is all the opinions, fashions, trends, maxims, speculations, politics, morals, and aspirations at any time current in the world. It is the present day atmosphere and heartbeat of our culture and is broadcast to our hearts through television, radio, Internet, movies, newspapers, and books. It is the modern state of global affairs and the driving forces behind it. The spirit of this age tills the ground of the heart making it ready for the planting and growth of these thorny spiritual weeds.
All we have to do is turn on the television, pick up a newspaper or get on the Internet to get a vibrant picture of these thorny “cares of this world.” This category of anxious cares are more global in their scope as they are rooted in the current state of affairs in our communities, cities, and nations around the world. The chaos of the age is at the heart of these thorns. Terrorism, violence, recessions, unemployment, poverty, wars, droughts, and crime are but a few of the enemy’s weapons to throw at the heart to get it in a state of anxiety and fear. Daily our hearts are bombarded with disasters, bad news and terrible forecasts all aimed to get us to fear and lose faith in God.
We cannot let the negative news of the day choke the Word of God from our hearts. God will always provide for us if we trust His promises. He will never fail us no matter how bleak the world looks around us. Our lives are in the mighty hands of God Almighty. Our hearts need a good dose of the words of our Creator in Psalm 91 to combat the increasingly dreadful events that happen around the world every single day.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, No evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation. (Psalm 91:1-7, 9-10, 13-16, NLT)
These words are from the heart of God who truly loves and cares for you. No terror, plague, devastation, recession, or violence can harm a hair on your head for God is your refuge and place of safety. He provides for you, even if he has to send ravens to feed you like Elijah or rain bread from heaven, God will never fail to take care of you in the midst of the chaos of this world. If you are fearful about the current state of world affairs, you do not trust in your God. You are allowing the thorns of these anxious cares to choke the truth of Psalm 91 and other Scriptures from your heart.
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let you fall. Your guardian will not fall asleep. The Lord is your guardian. The Lord is the shade over your right hand. The sun will not beat down on you during the day, nor will the moon at night. The Lord guards you from every evil. He guards your life. The Lord guards you as you come and go, now and forever. (Psalm 121:2-3, 5-8, GW)
Our help does not come from our checking account, political affiliation, educational degrees, material possessions, and natural abilities. Our help comes from the Maker of the heavens and earth. He is our protector; He is our guardian; He is our defender; He is our keeper; He is our shepherd; He is our anchor; He is our shield; He is our refuge, and He is our Heavenly Father. Why are we so anxious? Why are our hearts so intoxicated with worry? Why do these anxious thorns of this age so easily grow in our hearts?
The Bigness of Our God
Do you have any idea how big our God is? 2 Chronicles 6:18 says, “The heavens, even the highest heavens cannot contain you.” The entire universe is not big enough to contain our God! John Bevere in Enemy Access Denied says God is “bigger that you are even capable of thinking.”[i] Can you even catch a glimpse of the vastness and majesty of our God?
If we would board a plane, it would take twenty-one years to reach the sun, which is ninety-three million miles away, and a whopping fifty three BILLION years to reach the nearest star, which is four and one-half light years away. The stars we see shining at night are one hundred to one thousand light years away. Light travels at one hundred eighty-six thousand miles per second, or seven hundred million miles an hour, and it would take hundreds and hundreds of years to reach them. NASA’s Hubble Space telescope has sent back pictures of galaxies that are seven thousand light years from the earth. Even more amazing, the Keck Observatory in Hawaii has observed galaxies more than fifty to three hundred million light years away! The farthest galaxy would take you three hundred million years to reach traveling at seven hundred million miles per hour! Now that is a long plane ride!
Yet God says in Isaiah 40:12 that “He has measured off the heavens with his fingers.” It is estimated that there are five hundred billion galaxies in the universe and three hundred billion stars in each galaxy and Isaiah 40:26 says God created every single star, and “He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.”
Are you beginning to get an inkling of how big our God is? Isaiah 40:15 says “He picks up the whole earth as if it were a grain of sand” and Isaiah declares God is “the High and Lofty One that inhabits eternity!” It is incomprehensible to the human mind to even begin to understand the limitlessness and supremacy of our God. Nothing compares to Him! Yet we are worried and full of anxiety about the evening news!
Our heart needs to wake up and open its eyes to the greatness of our God. We need to turn our heart toward God’s mighty throne and say, “Fear not! Behold your God!” The anxious cares of this age melt away when we begin to see the immeasurable glory, strength and power of our God! Isn’t it time we begin to trust in Him regardless of the negative news headlines of despair that the media broadcasts daily around the world.
Men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Luke 21:46, NASB)
The world is shipwrecked and gone mad, drunk on its own sin and self-serving ways as it has rejected the Word of God and the authority of God to rule their lives. The world is in a state of rapid decay. Evil will progressively get worse because the devil is the prince of this world and the god of this age. His character is stamped on world events and his heart is manifested in the unspeakable evils that are seen and heard every day and night. No politician will ever come up with some magic pill or brilliant plan to solve the world’s ills. The world news will only get worse because its prince is bent on its destruction. We cannot allow ourselves to get wrapped up in this negativity and chaos or our heart will fail us because of fear and uncertainty. Everything that is happening in the world is designed to get us to fear and lose faith in our God.
God commands us not to be anxious about anything that is happening in this crazy world. God is on our side and He resides within us and nothing can stand against us for we dwell in His strong tower.
The major problem with the world is there is no fear of God in their eyes. This is at the root of every problem and evil in the world. The world does not stand in awe of the name of the Lord. The world tells God to get out of the way for you are not needed or wanted here. The world despises God’s Word and rather trusts in their iniquity, which causes evil to flourish and eventually shatter their world into pieces.
Our hearts must come out and be separate from the world, and with a holy, reverential awe of God, place all of our trust in God. With quiet confidence, we know our God shall never fail or forsake us in this wicked age, as fear has no place in our heart. We rip these thorny plants from the soil of our heart for we know God is our refuge in times of trouble.
The Pressure to Measure Up to the World’s Image of Perfection
There is another aspect to the “cares of this age” that I would be remiss if I did not at least briefly comment on. Anxious worries and fears also arise from the cultural fads, trends and fashions of the current times that pressure the heart to conform to its ways. The world tells us we are not pretty enough, not thin enough, not young enough, not hip enough and not cool enough so we become obsessed with changing our image to conform to this world. The pressure to measure up to the world’s image of perfection is overwhelming and consuming for millions of people of all ages. People become obsessed with diets, plastic surgeries, fashion, possessions, money, cosmetics and social media to look like the airbrushed images of models in magazines and the latest icon coming out of Hollywood. We have become a culture of beauty, fame, power and riches at any cost. We judge people based upon their outward appearance and not upon the content of their heart.
Even in the midst of a recession in America, over ten billion dollars was spent on cosmetic procedures with over ten million surgical and non-surgical procedures. This does not even include the billions spent on cosmetic products to try to make us look more beautiful, younger and attractive. This insane and relentless pursuit of the world’s image of beauty has caused an epidemic of depression, eating disorders, addiction, unhappiness and even suicide. The culture’s anxious cares are crushing the hearts of old and young. A.W. Tozer said, “It will require a determined heart and more than a little courage to wrench ourselves loose from the grip of our times.”[ii]
God Has Made You Beautiful
God wonderfully made every detail of our bodies and knit together every amazing feature in our mother’s womb. God made each of us beautiful in His eyes. Our physical bodies are a masterpiece of His creation. God does not make anything ugly, so why are we so dissatisfied with our physical image? God handpicked the color of our eyes, the shape of our face, the color of our hair, the length of our body and thousands of other details that make you His beautiful masterpiece.
God is the Divine Sculptor who takes blocks of granite that have been scarred, cracked, discolored or made rough by the world. God begins to smooth the rough corners and jagged edges, take away the discoloration and remove the scars and the blocks of granite begin to resemble the shape and contour of the Divine Sculptor’s Son. The Devil charges into the Sculptor’s studio and points out the granite’s imperfections, weaknesses and flaws, but God looks at the finished product and sees His Son in every chisel mark and every hammered stroke. He sees the image of His Son when He looks at us. Nothing is more breathtaking to behold than the beauty of Christ in us.
The world’s image of beauty is fake and superficial. It drives the human heart into an unhealthy obsession of pursuing worldly beauty at all costs, even to the point of extreme physical and emotional harm. Americans alone spent a whopping 33.3 billion dollars annually on cosmetics and other beauty products as America is obsessed with their body and image. Their self-worth is measured by their beauty and how it measures up to the media—blitzed images that bombard us daily. The cult of the body and the cult of the beautiful draw so many unsuspecting women and men into their deadly snares. It causes their hearts to be seized with extreme anxiety if they do not measure up to the pattern of this world. It is battle they will never win because true beauty does not reside in the latest trends and fashions of the age. Physical beauty fades quickly in the world’s walkway. The world magnifies tiny flaws into mountains and soon discards us to the trash pile of the ugly because we have failed to meet their impossible standards.
However God’s holy Word says in Psalm 39:5-6 that “man is his best state is altogether vanity” and that “every man walks in a vain show.” In the Hebrew “vanity” means a breath or puff of air, a vapor and a mist. The Hebrew word “vain show” means a shadow, and an empty image. A man or woman at their best is but a mere puff of air or a vanishing vapor. People put on a vain show each day as they proudly display their beauty to the world, but it is a mere shadow and empty image when compared to God Almighty.
Stop the Masquerade
God sees us completely different from the world. He created us and He often sees His beauty marred by the imperfections of sin and broken by the hurts, disappointments and sufferings of life. He sees a heart that can be mended, healed, and restored. He calls beautiful what the world calls ugly. God is passionately pleading with us to present every part of our body as a living and holy sacrifice to Him putting our entire body at His disposal. God commands us to: “Stop assuming an outward expression in our body that is conformed, patterned and fashioned after the cultures and trends of this age!”(Romans 12:2). God cries out to “Stop masquerading in the habits, mannerisms and expressions of this world that do not reflect the pure beauty of Christ in us and the honor and dignity of our calling as sons and daughters of God!”
This masquerade costume that we often put on acts as a covering so we cannot radiate the beauty of the Lord Jesus. No cosmetic product or procedure on earth can transform our appearance into the glory of the Lord. We should radiate the brilliance of God’s attributes like Jesus did on the Mount of Transfiguration. This is God’s heart for us as we are to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, not the image of Cosmopolitan or Muscle and Fitness Magazine.
I am not saying it is wrong to wear make-up or work out, but what image are we obsessed about? What image drives us to get up in the morning and is our focus throughout the day? What image do we pursue as our sacred passion? We will never be satisfied if the culture’s latest trends is the image we chase after for we will never be good looking enough, never rich enough, and never perfect enough. Someone will always be wealthier, more beautiful and more connected. Quite simply we will never measure up, and we our opening our hearts to bitter disillusionment, anxiety and fear.
Once you are caught up in this trap of chasing the fading beauty of this age, the world has a tendency to brutally go after its own with harsh criticism, ridicule, and contempt. This drives so many to destroy their lives with drugs, alcohol, sex, and even suicide. The indifference, ruthlessness, and cold-heartedness of this age have demolished the hearts of those who have fallen for this cruel masquerade. These are the thickest of thorny weeds, and have ruined countless lives.
This is not harmless stuff as it is radically transforming the hearts of a generation. So many people destroy their lives in the shallowness of something that never brings true happiness or joy and never advances God’s kingdom. Never allow these thorns to put your heart in a state of compromise. As Becky Tirabassi said in Sacred Obsession, “On my journey I have discovered passion has no bounds. Once you let it in, it takes you prisoner … what you chase after you become … whether it is holy or unholy … You will always gravitate toward that which you, secretly, most love.”[iii] What do we have more passion for and deeply love? It is God’s holy image of beauty or the Devil’s image of beauty? What image captivates our heart?
Ephesians 1 says that God has made us lovely and acceptable in Christ. The true beauty of our adornment comes from within, the inner sanctuary of the heart, that has been pervaded with the beauty and fragrance of Christ. The Hidden Man of our heart is the Lord Jesus and His sweetness, love, beauty and splendor should be overflowing from our hearts daily. He will make our outward appearance shine with his glory when the gaze of our heart is steadfastly set upon Him. Our inner and outward beauty comes from our relationship with Him.
We must never fall into the trap of the anxious cares of the fads and beauty of this age, which present a false façade of worth, but in the end only offer disappointing misery and emptiness. We cannot build the inner life of the heart on these deceptive images of worldly beauty that bring nothing but dishonor and disgrace to our lives as Christians. The beauty of the world fades and grows faintly dim in the light of the beauty of our wonderful Lord Jesus. We do not need the trappings of the world to shine as a light in this twisted and dark world, but only the living Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit living within.
[i] John Bevere, Enemy Access Denied: Slam the Devil’s Door with One Simple Decision (Lake Mary: Charisma House, 2006), 28.
[ii] A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (New York: Start Publishing LLC, 2012, originally published in 1948), 68.
[iii] Becky Tirabassi, Sacred Obsession: What You Chase After You Become (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2006), 1, 5.
This is such a thorough exposition on the scripture! I’m blessed. Thank God for insight into His Word! Thank you for being such a blessing!
Where are the other 4 thorns? You mentioned one and that’s all I saw. Great article. Thank you.
Brad the other thorns are described in the other chapters of my book “The Heart: the Key to Everything in the Christian Life.” They are also posted on the blog in other articles. Thanks for your input.