In the parable of the sower Jesus likened the kingdom of God to a sower who sowed seeds on four types of ground. Some seed fell by the wayside and was quickly eaten by birds. Some seed fell upon stony ground and, sprung up for a while until the sun scorched the new plants so that they withered away. Other seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew and choked them. Other seed fell on good ground and brought forth thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and one hundred-fold.
Fortunately for us, Jesus explained to His disciples the meaning of this parable. The seed is the Word of God. The wayside ground is a type of person who hears the Word of God and does not understand it. The fowls are like the wicked one, Satan, the devil, who takes away the Word out of their hearts before they can believe and be saved. There is no positive result. The Word of God sort of "goes in one ear and out the other."
The stony ground is a type of person who gladly receives the Word of God and endures for awhile until persecution or affliction arises. They are offended and die out.
The third type of ground is thorny ground. This is a type of person who at first seemingly does quite well. After a while, though, the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, the lusts of other things and the pleasures of this life choke this person from being fruitful or useful in the kingdom of God.
The fourth type of ground, called good ground, are the persons who hear the word of God and understand it and bear forth much fruit.
You probably would not be reading this article if you were one of the first two types of ground. You did not allow Satan to steal the Word of God out of your heart. You believed the gospel, repented of your sins, were baptized in Jesus' name and received the Holy Ghost. Also at school, at work, or in your neighborhood you have experienced being called religious fanatics or Holy rollers or had other derisive remarks made to you. Some of you were persecuted by your families and still held on. What people say no longer bothers you. You have gotten through the second stage.
I am convinced that most of us are still struggling through the third stage. There are thorns that creep up that would like to choke us and keep us from being as fruitful as we should be. Unfortunately, the gardens of our heart need to have the thorns removed over and over again.
What are the items that can choke us? It is important to note that we can be choked on things that, by themselves, are not bad. People have been choked to death by food, water, marbles, false teeth, and other items. Jesus said the following items can choke us and prevent us from being fruitful.
1. Cares of this life. There are many cares of this life involved in earning a living (transportation, training, clothing), raising a family (cooking, washing, ironing, cleaning), and maintaining a dwelling place (cutting grass, painting, repairing.) To care is not a bad thing unless it chokes out your fruitfulness. Jesus said in Luke 21:34, "Take heed to yourselves, lest at anytime your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkeness and cares of this life so that day come upon you unawares." Jesus showed that the cares of this life can be as dangerous to you as surfeiting and drunkeness.
2. Deceitfulness of riches. Paul wrote that "they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition" (ITimothy 6:9). It seems that the "will be rich" have even more trouble than the 'rich." It is the love of money and not money itself that is the root of all evil. In drowning, one chokes to death because the water prevents one from getting the necessary air to breathe. Likewise, the deceitfulness of riches can prevent one from obtaining the fresh breath of the Spirit necessary for survival. How many Pentecostal families, in their desire for the material things of this life, have worked extra hours, two jobs, or had both parents work only to discover they no longer have time to be fruitful for God? A wealthy man was asked, "How much money does it take to satisfy?" His reply was, "More." Solomon said, "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver" (Ecclesiastes5:10). Jesus said, "How hard it is for them that trust (rely on, depend upon) riches to enter into the kingdom of God “ (Mark10:24).
We can be choked in things that, by themselves, are not bad.
3. Pleasures of this life. There are many things the Bible condemns as sin. Many of these things must be pleasurable to some degree or the Bible would not call them the "pleasures of sin" (Hebrews 11:25). Christians should never be involved with the pleasures of sin. Many other things, though, could be called the pleasures of this life. Some pleasurable things in this life are eating, visiting, sightseeing, music, reading, sports, and games. Just because you don't like a certain thing does not mean it is sinful. However, Paul did warn that "in the last days. . .men shall be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God" (II Timothy 3:4). When one begins to love his pleasures more than his God, he is choking to death.
How can you prevent being choked by these things? Henry J .Heimlich, M.D., has become famous for his techniques to rescue someone from choking. The following steps are included in the basic Heimlich maneuver.
1. From behind, wrap your arms around the victim's waist.
2. Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb side of your fist against the victim's abdomen, below the rib cage and above the navel.
3. Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into the victim's abdomen with a quick up-ward thrust.
4. Repeat thrusts as often as needed until the object is expelled.
Just as Dr. Heimlich has steps to remove blockages from the windpipe, the word of God has instructions to prevent choking spiritually.
1. To prevent choking on the cares of this life you should "cast all your care upon him (God), for he careth for you" (I Peter 5:7).
2. To prevent choking on. The deceitfulness of riches you should learn contentment. Paul wrote that "godliness with contentment is great gain . . . and having food and raiment let us therewith be content" (I Timothy 6:6-8).
3. To prevent choking on the pleasures of this life you should be "temperate in all things" and "let your moderation be known unto all men" (I Corinthians 9:25; Philippians 4:5). Also "set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians3:2).
Let's get through this third stage. The Word of God has tremendous multiplying power if it is sown in a good heart. Let is produce much in your life. Don't let anything-choke it out.
This article first appeared around January 1990 in First Love, a paper put out by Christian Life College, Stockton, CA