Links Daily Devotional

That We May Thrive

“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.” (Matthew 13:21, NIV)

The PGA Tour is doing it to us again. They’re sending us hours of tournament coverage from the gorgeous shores of Hawaii.

It’s easy to love the start of the season, no doubt. We get to watch some of our favorite players make it happen on the course again. But there’s more to it when the Tour is airing from the Pacific islands. We have to decide how this makes us feel.

If you live in a colder, uglier locales this time of year, Hawaii might produce a delighted yearning in you: I want that! “Honey, let’s see what we can do to get to Hawaii this year!” It’s not a jealousy that would take from others what they have; it’s a desire to join them in what they are enjoying.

But you may also choose another response. You may dig your winter boots into the icy ground and say, “Bunch of softies! I don’t need that sunshine. I’m making it just fine right where I am.” I don’t know where you live, but here in America, we have an expression for that stance in life. It’s called “rugged individualism,” and it is quite revered as a way of taking on the world.

By now, you may already be seeing the connection between these responses to beautiful Hawaii and Jesus’ Parable of the Sower (or Parable of the Soils). Simply, the Gospel’s welcoming message is not welcomed by everyone.

For all the difficulty we find in understanding some of Jesus’ parables, this one is easier, for Jesus offered an explanation. No, it’s not that the Parable of the Sower is difficult to understand; it’s that it’s hard to accept. Jesus described four different kinds of people in this parable—those who do not understand, those who never mature, those who turn toward other attentions, and those who flourish. Really? Three out of four people essentially say, “You know, I prefer the icy cold to the warm breezes of Hawaii”?

We don’t know that Jesus was speaking in true percentages, of course. Maybe there are ten people who desire the kingdom for every one who does not. But our hearts still go to the one, especially when we are sitting in funeral of a friend whose enduring faith we can’t confirm. It hurts.

So let’s take this to a conclusion—or two. We should find in this parable the impetus, first, to flourish. We should desire to get to Hawaii, so to speak, or in Jesus’ words, to produce a hundredfold. But we should also find motivation to tend to the faith of others, to help them understand, and grow, and last. The fellowship of believers is vital for this very reason. Rugged or not, we cannot be individualists in the body of Christ. We must call on the Lord to help us each thrive, and we must endeavor to encourage one another in that thriving.

Jeff Hopper
January 14, 2015
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