I’ve never really had a knack for gardening.  I remember when on one particular occasion my parents asked me to go and, “hoe out the onions.”  I, being the logical person that I am, took that to mean that I should take a hoe, traverse to the garden, and proceed to hoe the onions out of the garden.  Little did I know that to hoe out the onions actually meant to remove the grass and thorns from the onions.  What I do know about gardening, and what this story humorously points out, is if you want a plant to grow and be productive, you have to remove any weeds that could hinder it.  When a plant is surrounded by weeds, the weeds steal important nutrients that help the plant grow and produce fruit.

Our spiritual life works much the same way, and Jesus makes such comparison in a parable.  In Matthew 13:3-9, Jesus compares the word of God to seeds that are being sown into different types of soil.  Some of the seeds are sown into soil that is inundated with thorns.  Spiritually, these thorns represent, “The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches “.  They choke the life out of the word and keep it from bearing spiritual fruit in a person’s life.

These spiritual thorns, though, are much more dastardly than normal thorns.  Normal thorns are generally ugly, nasty plants that are an eyesore.   However, our spiritual thorns are often pretty little things that we tend to with the utmost of care.   Often, they aren’t even things that we would consider bad, but regardless of the nature of the thorn, they perform their job more efficiently than any natural weed could.   They thoroughly hinder the growth of the word in our lives and make us unfruitful Christians.   I’m currently in the process of removing a thorn from my garden that I’ve let run wild for far too long – video games.  Games have consumed much of my life, and while there is nothing wrong with some games, they took up a lot of time and energy that could have been better spent serving God.

This brings up a key point, once we’ve realized that something in life is a thorn, we have to determine what to do about it.  Some weeds are actually good plants that are beneficial when under control of the Holy Spirit.  It’s when these plants become an obsession that they turn into thorns, and instead of allowing them to be brought under control of the Holy Spirit, they supplant God as our main focus and rob our lives of producing spiritual fruit.  

When a good thing turns into an obsession, you have a much bigger problem on your hands.  As with me and video games, a much more drastic solution is necessary – complete eradication.  Some weeds have such a strangle-hold on our lives that there is no choice but to remove them.   We could try to carve out a nice space for them, but they have such an impression on our psyche that they grow like wild fire when any attention is given to them.  They are consuming and uncontrollable, and our only hope if we want God’s word and the Holy Spirit to reign in our lives is to clear these thorns out. 

So, all that’s left is to decide, “How far are we willing to go?”  Are we willing to sacrifice so that the word of God might grow?  Are we willing to let these weeds die that our lives might bear fruit for the kingdom of God?  If we truly want to live for God and truly desire His word to flourish in our lives then removing these thorns isn’t just a good idea or mere sentiment.  It’s a mandatory action that requires all of our effort.  It’s time to decide whether we want to keep trudging along or if we want to run this race with nothing holding us back (Hebrews 12:1).

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