The parable of the four soils is one of the more popular teachings of Jesus. It is found in three of the four gospels and is one of the few parables that Jesus interprets Himself. Jesus tells us that the soil is a picture of the heart of four different individuals and their response to the seed, which is the word of God, namely the gospel. In other words, Jesus shows us four different responses to faith in Him.
I'm not going to go into all the details of all four soils here. For that, I will recommend you listen to a message I gave on the four soils during our course on the book of Hebrews and how Jesus is teaching us to have faith in Him. You can listen to that message by clicking here.
Instead, I am going to focus on one soil in particular, the one with the thorns. The third soil mentioned by Jesus describes seed that falls among thorns, and when the plant and thorns grew up together, the thorns choked the plant so the fruit never matured.
Here we see a picture of a believer - we know this because the seed (the gospel) penetrated the soil (the heart) and roots formed (indwelt by the Holy Spirit) with this plant opposed to the previous soil. But it is not just any believer, but rather one that is carnal. One that lives like the world. One whose dependence upon Christ was only for salvation and not for everyday living.
For Jesus tells us that the 'thorns' are the "worries and riches and pleasures of this world" (Luke 8:14). Meaning, this person is more interested in finding a happy life with success and ease as the world would define it, rather than know and experience Christ living in them.
And as appealing as the goal of earthly happiness may seem to some, it is a very short term gain with great long term lost. Meaning, everything that is available to us in this world will eventually vanish - guaranteed. For some it will be gone within the year, for others five, others it will be longer. But I guarantee that for everyone reading this, you will lose everything in this world within 100 years from now. Because, as the old saying goes, "You can't take this world with you when you die."
But here is the great part. Jesus, knowing all this, intervenes (some might say interrupts) by cutting away from us the 'thorns' that are preventing us from knowing and experiencing Him in us. Pruning those things from us that prevent the fruit of the Spirit (namely the life of Christ) from being formed within us. This is what Jesus talks about in John 15 when He mentions the pruning by Father. It is often referred to as brokenness, where a loving Father removes those things that I might have become enamoured with, but are actually hurting me because they get in the way with my relationship with Jesus.
Now, this is rarely a fun process. Because we have often become attached to the 'thorns' - money, a career, a relationship, maybe even a ministry - and can't imagine life without it. In fact, when the 'thorn' is first being removed we often pray for Jesus to save the 'thorn' so we can be happy again. But thank God He doesn't stop. Thank God that, even though it hurts, He continues because the 'thorn' is choking us and keeping us from experiencing His life.
One last important point. Father is never out to hurt you because He is mad and wants to punish you. Instead, the pain we experience during this time actually saves us from greater pain later. The lost we experience when the 'thorn' is removed, does not compare to what we gain as the fruit of the Spirit begins to form in us. And this fruit lasts into eternity.
In Christ who is our Life,