Blasted Thorns

By Linda Slaton


Of all the parables in the Bible, the Parable of the Sower is my favorite. Rich with meaning, this passage transcends time.

In Luke 8 Jesus is talking about what happens to seeds—God’s word—when they land on different types of terrain.

Seeds that fall beside the road are easily snatched by birds (the devil). Those sown on rocky soil, even though they hear the word with joy, develop no firm root and in times of temptation fall away.

It’s what happens to the seeds in the thorny soil (verses 7 and 14) that gives me pause:

Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out … The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of this life, and bear no fruit to maturity.

Choking thorns result in fruitless lives. Synonyms for fruitless include unproductive, futile, useless, unrewarding, and wasted, none of which I want to characterize my life. Prolific and kudzu-like in my corner of the world, such thorns can overtake vast fields of crops on the kingdom landscape.

In good soil (verse 15) good and honest hearts hear and ‘hold fast the word’ and go on to ‘bear fruit with perseverance.’ How can we become good, fruitful soil? How can we heed the warning and avoid the thorns of worries, riches, and pleasures of this life?

We can start by honestly examining our hearts:

  • Am I a worrier? Given that it correlates to fruitless life, it bears reflection and, possibly, repentance. Jesus offers a great perspective on worry in Luke 12:25: “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?”
  • Am I choked with riches? Let’s face it: relative to the rest of the world most of us are wealthy. I wonder if and how my relative wealth is keeping me from bearing fruit.
  • Are the pleasures of this life really thorns for me? How so?

Kingdom fruit is at stake. To count ourselves good soil we must pause and listen to what the Spirit says as we ask ourselves hard questions. Self-examination brings self-awareness with eternal implications.    

Lord, awaken my ear to listen as a disciple (Is 50:4) and empower me to courageously face what is true of me. Prune the choking thorns from my life and make me good soil, fruitful soil. In Jesus’ name, Amen.