Passage: Matthew 6:19-35
Jesus told a parable once about a farmer who went scattering good seed. Some seed fell on the footpath, and were eaten by birds. Some seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock, and withered when things got hot. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Sill other seed fell on fertile soil, producing an incredible crop. Jesus explained the meaning of these different soils (Mathew 13:18-23), saying that the seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.
This week, we’re staring a brand new series called “Set Free!” In it, we’ll be looking at some of those weeds that threaten to crowd God’s word out of our lives. Worry, guilt, shame, bitterness, loneliness and a legalistic heart can cripple us. But the good news is that they don’t have to. This series is about how Jesus can release us from our bondage to such things. We’ll be asking how we can ensure that they don’t crowd God’s word out of our lives, so that the soil of our lives is transformed into good soil, where God’s word can grow deeply and vibrantly, producing much fruit.
If we’re honest, many of us struggle with thorns in our lives. The task of weeding can take time, and can be painful. But we don’t have to do it alone. God loves us so much that he sent his Son into the world to bring freedom. Quoting Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus said that The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come. (Luke 4:18-19).
It is my prayer that you and I, over the course of the next 6 weeks, will be challenged and encouraged to strip of every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.(He 12:1-4)
This week’s thorn-bush is that of worry. We live in a world where worry is endemic. A 2012 survey by Macquire University found that Western Australia was second only to the Northern Territory in how much we worry. They found that the Australian women were most worried (in order) about their future career, the future in general, their weight, their achievements and what people thought of them. Men similarly were most worried about their future career, their achievements, the future in general, what people thought of them, and doing well at work or school.
I think Jesus suggests people worry because they’re afraid of losing their treasure; that which is most precious to them, around which everything revolves. Which, says Jesus, is futile – for earthly treasures fail. But if we store up treasure in heaven, it will never fail. And if we treasure and seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, Jesus promises that our loving Father will look after us even today. Everything we have – even our life – is a gift from God.
So should Christians worry, and how do we cope with it when we do?