Matthew 13:22 and Failing to Produce Fruit

sow-seed-irri-images-2-flickrThe Parable of the Sower is one of the most interesting parables. It is the first parable Jesus is recorded as preaching, probably because it typifies all the other ones. There are multiple groups of people contained within the parable, and therefore many different points of contact with different people’s lives:

He said many things to them in parables: “A farmer went out to scatter seed. As he was scattering seed, some fell on the path, and birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on rocky ground where the soil was shallow. They sprouted immediately because the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up, it scorched the plants, and they dried up because they had no roots. Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorny plants grew and choked them. Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit, in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one. Everyone who has ears should pay attention.”

Just a quick rundown through the parable shows people who do not respond to the Gospel message, those that respond quickly but do not make a lasting commitment, those who do not produce fruit, and those who have a variety of positive responses to the message in their lives. It is easy to see how the first one happens. The seed is removed because it could not take hold in someone’s life. The second is fairly easy, as well. Some people respond favorably as long as nothing is demanded of them in life. As soon as there are any kind of hardships or setbacks, they fall away quickly. The last group is the one in which we should all want to be, bearing much fruit. But I am afraid that all too many of us are in the third group, the one that fails to produce fruit.

Look at how Jesus explicitly explains this group:

22  As for the seed that was spread among thorny plants, this refers to those who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the false appeal of wealth choke the word, and it bears no fruit.

Notice that this group, unlike the one in the rocks, did take root. This means the conversion was genuine. They did accept the Gospel message, and they allowed it to grow in them. Yet when it was time for the wheat to sprout seed, there was nothing because too many other things around them choked them out. These people, while having accepted the Gospel and allowing it to take root in their lives, were too distracted from the Kingdom of God by everything else in this life to allow it to grow to fruition and actually produce something.

For all intents and purposes, these wheat stalks became weeds–a plant that just grows and produces nothing.

As Christians in the West, how many of us truly believe in Christ, are very faithful in our religious and spiritual lives, yet are not producing any fruit for the Kingdom because it is not really a priority in our lives? There are always other things that take us away from serving Christ. We believe in him. We love him. But we have a very hard time denying ourselves in order to follow him. We have family concerns, work concerns, money concerns. We have soccer games, football games, shopping trips. We work all week and are tired and just need to rest. We believe, but there are so many other things in our lives that living out our belief rings hollow, we faithfully go through the motions when we can, and we wonder why there is no spiritual fruit in our lives.

It is really a matter of priorities in our lives. If we truly give all of ourselves to Christ, and really deny ourselves to follow him, he will produce the fruit in our lives. If we believe, but we do not believe fully enough to allow it to change our lives, we may have been sown as wheat by the farmer, but we are living like weeds having never produced fruit.

The good news is that Christ is in the redeeming and transforming business. If he can turn water into wine, he can turn weeds back into wheat. If he can multiply bread, he can multiply how much fruit we can produce. All we have to do is be seriously committed to him, denying ourselves, and trusting in God. When we order our lives around Christ and his Kingdom, transformation happens and fruit is produced: some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, some a hundredfold. But the choice is ours.

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