What Will You Do With His Word?


“Then Jesus said, ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.’

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.

He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’

Then Jesus said to them, ‘Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?

The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.’”

Mark 4:9-20

One of Jesus’s very first parables is recorded in Mark 4. You can go read the entire thing if you want (Mark 4:1-20), but I’ll summarize it here.

In the “Parable of the Sower,” Jesus describes four responses that we can have to hearing the Word of God:

1. The Word can be entirely ignored.

2. The Word can be received joyfully at first. But if no effort is put into learning more, it will quickly fade to irrelevance in a person’s life.

3. The Word can be received and loved and grown in a person’s heart. But there is always a danger that “thorns” choke the Word and it produces no lasting life change.

4. The Word can be received and accepted and pursued fully. And when that is the case, it produces “a bountiful crop” in someone’s life.

It’s a very familiar parable for those who have read the Bible. In some ways, it sets the tone for everything else that Jesus taught, basically asking the question, “What will you do with my words?”

For most of my life, perhaps with arrogance, I’ve read the parable above thankful that I am among the fourth group of people—heard the Word, accepted the Word, and allowed it to produce change and fruit in my life.

But over the past several years of my life, I’ve been questioning that self-evaluation. And simultaneously wondering if the American Church (myself included) falls a bit closer to the third response—the third soil that received the Word but has fallen short in fruitfulness.

Upon closer examination of the story, Jesus tells us what sorts of “thorns” choke out the fruitfulness of the Word of God in our lives.

He lists them as: “the worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for other things.” Doesn’t that describe our culture perfectly?! Fixated on money, riches, pleasures, and all of life’s worries.

I think the American Church is living out the Third Response more than we want to admit. At the very least, our pursuit of the pleasures of this world are hindering the amount of fruit we are producing in our lives.

We are a culture fixated on money, riches, pleasures, and possessions—both outside the Church and inside.

And it is robbing us of fruitfulness.


Heavenly Father, thank you for your guidance and your kingdom. Help me to overcome my distractions, so that your word may take root and bring abundant fruitfulness to my life. May I hear your word and accept it deep in my heart. Amen.