The second thorn in the Parable of the Sower is “the cares of this life.” The same Greek word is used for “cares” so these are still anxious worries that divide and distract the mind and agitate the heart with fear, but it is a different category of cares. The word “life” is bios which means the life which we live or the manner of our lives. This is our surface life, the things of everyday living, or the basic needs of life to sustain it on a physical level. Examples of bios are food, shelter, physical health, water, jobs, finances, bills, relationships and all problems that may arise from our day to day living.
These second thorns are anxious worries of daily living such as: “How am I going to pay my bills? I lost my job! How am I going feed and clothe my family? What happens if I get a serious illness? I have no medical insurance. My family schedule is too demanding. I am so tired! My job is too overwhelming as by boss expects too much! My car is on its last leg!” These anxious cares will grow rapidly in the heart and choke the promises of God that declare in no uncertain terms that God will provide and meet all of our daily needs of living. Jesus perfectly illustrates these anxious cares in the Sermon on the Mount and commands these worries have no place in the heart of the child of God.
Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV):
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
These anxious worries of everyday living are some of the most common thorns that the human heart must deal with on a daily basis. They are deadly to the growth of the Word of God in our hearts for at their core they indicate a lack of trust that our Heavenly Father is really big enough to take care of our every need. These thorns indicate a heart that is full of unbelief and little faith that God can provide for even our most basic necessities of life. On an even deeper level these thorns are indicative of a heart that really does not know their Heavenly Father and His character, and consequently does not have an intimate relationship with Him.
The Bible declares one of the names of God is Yahweh Jireh, the Lord sees and provides. He has given us thousands of promises in His Word that He will provide for us on every level of our physical existence even down to the smallest detail of life. He promises that He is our provision and our daily bread and will never forsake, leave or fail us. This is our Heavenly Father’s very nature and to know God is to have full confidence in this fundamental truth of Christian living. This is why God declares in no uncertain terms, “Do not be anxious about your life!” From the Greek sense of this phrase it strongly states: “STOP perpetually worrying about EVEN ONE THING!” Our heart must be fully confident of this truth that God promises to take care of us, and we need never have one ounce of worry, fear, doubt or anxiety about anything.
Jesus paints a beautiful picture of how God takes care of the birds and the wild flowers of the field, attending to their every need. God is always faithful to feed the birds even though they never plant or harvest food, and faithful to clothe the flower with some of the most beautiful garments on earth. Look at how God has so wonderfully adorned the wildflower and clothed it with His breathtaking beauty. Have you ever gazed at a flower and seen its intricate detail, its vibrant colors, and its indescribable perfection? Even the great king Solomon, the richest, wisest and most powerful king in the Old Testament, clothed in all the glory of his kingly raiment, cannot compare to the beauty with which God has dressed a single flower. Flowers illustrate a free and carefree existence in the presence of their Creator and display the wonder and faithfulness of God.
What about God’s children? Will He do any less? We have a thousand times more value to God than a bird or flower so why do we even have one iota of anxiety that He won’t take care of us? Oh how little our faith has been in our Heavenly Father! Oh how little we trust His faithfulness! Oh how our heart has been deceived into thinking that God does not care! Oh how little confidence have we have in his promises!
Anxiety and Fear: The Habitual Mindset of This World
Worry, anxiety and fear is the habitual mindset of the world and the unbeliever. Everything is this culture is designed to weaken our trust in God and seize the heart with fear. The world harvests a bumper crop of these thorns daily and is ever ready to sow them into our hearts. These thorns are the bait of the enemy to try to get us to doubt our God and His faithfulness to His Word. Anxiety and fear will never have one positive contribution to the Christian heart and, are in fact, its greatest enemies. These thought patterns kill faith and turn the heart away from God to unbelief, robbing us of the joy of walking in intimacy with our Lord. If allowed to take root, these thorns are extremely powerful and have a tendency to consume the heart. There is no better example than the children of Israel and their exodus from Egypt to see the dangers of this thorn.
God worked incredible miracles to get the Pharaoh of Egypt to let the children of Israel leave under the leadership of Moses. When Pharaoh had a change of heart and pursued the Israelites with the force of the Egyptian army, God performed one of the most amazing miracles in the history of the world. God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass through safely, and then closed the waters on the Egyptian army. God had intervened in battle for His people against the most powerful army on the face of the earth without Israel lifting one weapon to defend themselves. What an inspiring testimony of the Almighty God to protect and care for His people under the most adverse circumstances imaginable.
Can we imagine seeing this with our own eyes? How much would our faith in God skyrocket? How much wonder would fill our hearts at the majesty of our God? Wouldn’t we fall down our knees and worship God! The Israelites even sang a song of praise giving God all the glory, as they proclaimed His overwhelming victory.
Yet look at their hearts just 72 hours later as we begin to see thorns taking root and consuming their hearts.
Exodus 15:22,24 (NLT):
Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water.
When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means “bitter”).
Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded.
The Israelites hearts were full of anxious fear that they were going to die in the wilderness. Three days in the hot sun of the desert, caused them to forget God’s miracles of provision and lose all trust in God. Their faith in God and His promises withered in the scorching desert sun, and the soil of their hearts began to produce the thorns of the anxious cares of this life. God made the bitter waters sweet and showed the Israelites again that He will take care of their needs of daily living. However, this wondrous work of God’s love did little to change their heart and keep these thorns from suffocating the promises of God. We see the same pattern one month later, as these thorns became more dominant in their hearts, turning them again against God and His prophet.
Exodus 16:1,2 (NLT):
Then the whole community of Israel set out from Elim and journeyed into the wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Mount Sinai. They arrived there on the fifteenth day of the second month, one month after leaving the land of Egypt.
There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron.
“If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”
This wasn’t just a few malcontents, but the whole community of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron with shocking words that were born out of a heart full of fear. They wished God would have just killed them in Egypt because at least their bellies were full. Thirty days in the wilderness caused their hearts to be so overgrown with thorns, and they refused to have one ounce of trust in their God to take care of them. God rained manna from heaven six days a week to feed His children as the Bible testifies of the astounding heart of God to go to any length to provide for His children.
So why do we doubt that God will take care of us? Why are we anxious that God will forget our basic needs of living? Why do we think that God will abandon us? Why do we let our heart so easily be driven to these conclusions? I often wonder if I was part of the congregation of Israel if I would have joined in the murmuring and complaining against Moses and Aaron or if my heart would have trusted God to provide me with food and drink. How would your heart respond? Would you be a trustor or a complainer? Would your heart be full of anxiety or full of confidence in your God? Would the thorns of the anxious cares of this life consume your heart?
I Peter 5:6-8 (Amplified):
Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you,
Casting the whole of your care (merimnao) [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.
Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.
Humility: The Great Fertilizer of the Soil of the Heart
Anxiety, fear and worry die at the altar of humility. Humility is the great pesticide to kill these thorns of anxious cares and eradicate them from the heart. Humility is also the fertilizer of the soil, allowing our hearts to flourish in an environment free from the torment of anxiety and fear. Humility is the essential ingredient the heart needs to live care free. K.P. Yohannon in Destined to Soar says:
The foundation for learning to walk with the Lord, for serving Him and for becoming a blessing to others begins with the humility to act on God’s thoughts instead of our own…We must determine to act on His Word rather than our own thoughts or those the devil may whisper into our minds.[i]
To have the heart full of humility acting on God’s Word, causes the tender plant to grow strong, and the thorns of anxious cares to wither and fade into nothingness. To have anxiety indicates a lack of humility in the heart. Fear, worry and anxiety are all rooted in pride. Too prideful to let go and cast all our concerns on God; too prideful to realize we desperately need God’s help; too prideful to think we cannot solve our own problems, and too prideful to realize that the self-made man or woman is an illusion of our culture.
Anxiety melts away when we realize we are not self-sufficient, but God sufficient. Anxiety disappears as a vapor in the night when we allow God to assume the rightful throne of our hearts. Fear, worry, doubt and anxiety are burned up in the holy presence of our God.
God has very broad shoulders, and He makes it perfectly clear that every anxious care in our hearts must be cast upon Him. We cannot allow one thorny care to remain for they will multiply and strangle the Word of God from the heart. The thorny weeds of the anxious cares of daily living are some of the peskiest weeds ever known to the human heart. We must diligently watch the garden of our heart for these weeds will try to pop up daily and contaminate our lives with their propaganda. Anxiety is not a normal emotion of life for the Christian heart, but a thorny weed that has no place in the one who trusts and obeys the Heavenly Father.
We are God’s personal concern. We are God’s beloved children. God’s thoughts about us are more numerous than the sand of the sea. God affectionately and watchfully cares for us. God is our keeper, protector and helper, but we have to let Him do His job. How the heart of God must be in anguish when He sees His own children’s hearts overgrown with the thorns of anxiety, worry and fear as they try to carry burdens that only He can carry. God commands His children to once and for all cast every anxiety, fear, worry and doubt on the broad shoulders of God and never look back. Never again must the heart be agitated and disturbed by these anxious cares for our God is bigger, our God is stronger and our God is more powerful than all of these thorny weeds. We uproot every weed of anxiety, worry and fear and give it to the Master Gardener of our heart.
There is a loud roar of the lion in these anxious cares of life. The roar attempts to intimidate by fear. The roar attempts to grab the heart with anxiety. The roar attempts to overwhelm the heart with worry. The lion’s roar is a weapon to send a message of fear. The lion’s roar is meant to freeze the heart in fear. The lion’s roar is not the voice our heart should be listening to or considering as it always tries to drown out the voice of God speaking from the Scriptures.
The Greek word “roar’ means the howl of a beast in fierce hunger and is in the present tense which means the roar is a continuous, habitual action daily that represents the devil’s lifestyle. The devil wants to fiercely devour the heart so he is constantly roaring attempting to get the thorns of anxiety, fear and worry to take root and consume the heart. The roar is designed to produce these thorns and give the devil the open door to devour the heart. There is not a place upon the earth where this roar is not heard as it is a universal tool of the enemy to capture and destroy the heart.
Yet God is in the business of stopping the mouths of lions like He did for Daniel in the lion’s den. Only God can silence the roar of fear, anxiety and worry in the human heart for our times are in His mighty hands. We need not fear for God is our Heavenly Father and on our side, and He will fight every battle with this raging lion.
The Greek word for “devour” in I Peter 5:8 literally means to drink down or cause something to pass through the mouth and into the stomach, to swallow up completely, and to gulp down. Figuratively it means to cause the complete destruction of something or someone. The Greek word was used to describe engulfing waves of the sea which swallow up and drown a person.
Do you see why these anxious thorns are so destructive to the heart and must be eliminated at all costs? These anxious thorns allow the enemy to swallow up the heart. If we do not learn how to overcome anxiety, fear and worry by unwavering trust in our God, our heart is going to be swallowed up by the Devil. When the heart is overwhelmed with anxiety, it becomes immobilized where we cannot please God nor do His will. A fearful heart cannot love God and love others. An anxious heart cannot walk in the mighty power of God. A fearful heart cannot serve God. An anxious heart cannot praise and worship God and be thankful for His blessings and protection. A fearful heart denies the Lord Jesus and says to the world “I do not know the man!” Fear causes our heart to deny any commitment to Jesus in front of the eyes of the world.
The Word of God cannot live in a heart that is overrun with the thorns of anxiety, worry and fear as they allow the Devil to mold us to reflect His character. Our heart can never be conformed to the image of Christ if we allow anxiety, worry and fear to take up their abode as residents of our heart. Fear and anxiety are a clear indication that we doubt God’s love for us, and we really do not know our God. Whether it is the anxious cares of this age or the anxious cares of daily living, we must be ever so vigilant to not allow these thorns to gain a foothold in our hearts and suffocate the Word of God into extinction.
[i] K.P. Yohannon, Destined to Soar (Carrolton: GFA Books 2009), 118,119.