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7 Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorny plants grew and choked them.
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.
18 These are the ones who have heard the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the false appeal of wealth, and the desire for more things break in and choke the word, and it bears no fruit.
14 As for the seed that fell among thorny plants, these are the ones who, as they go about their lives, are choked by the concerns, riches, and pleasures of life, and their fruit never matures.
This may be the easiest of Jesus’ images to apply to the hectic pace of modern life. People who truly want to follow Jesus may have bosses who month after month demand many extra hours of work, kids who very much want to take part in dance, drama and three different sports, even engaging hobbies that take many hours every week to master. It’s true of money and it’s true of time: do everything else first and only give God what’s left over, and you’ll likely end up not giving at all.
Lord Jesus, I want to be rich—“rich toward God,” that is. Please shape my heart and my choice of priorities in ways that will continue to lead me to that kind of life. Amen.
As I was considering today’s theme of our snippet of Jesus’ classic parable, I began reflecting on how tempting it can be to allow the busy-ness of life to interfere with our faith walk. I reminisced about the lazy Saturday afternoons when we would play classic board games, like Clue. Let’s take a look:
For the uninitiated, Clue, which was released in 1949, is a murder mystery board game where players try to determine which of the 6 characters committed the murder of Mr. John Boddy. Each player/investigator moves around 9 rooms in a Tudor mansion ranging from the library, the kitchen, to a billiard parlor that connect via hallways & secret passageways to determine the place of the crime. Then, via accusations, the investigator tries to determine the culprit from a cast of characters like Professor Plum or Miss Peacock & the murder weapon, be it a rope, a lead pipe or a candlestick. As my wife, Doris, wryly asked, “This is a game to solve a mystery being played by a dad & his 2 sons, who can’t even determine who placed the empty milk gallon back into the refrigerator?” (For the record: We responded with an agreeable, “Yep!”)
Aside: I wanted to buy the board game where the player travels around in a car packed with wife & kids, but I
couldn’t recall the name. The clerk replied, ‘Ah, that’s Life.”
The challenge of the game Clue is to not let red herrings, distractions or repetitive information waste your turns & impede your investigation or else you may be stuck making wild accusations just to try to salvage the game.
I would submit that the strategy of prioritizing your focus to win a game of Clue is similar to the theme of Jesus’ parable. We have “good seed” (the Word of God) being planted in each of our hearts. However, we can easily see “weeds” choking it out. The weeds could be represented by the 7 Deadly Sins, like greed for wealth, envy of others’ success, or living life to excess, aka gluttony.
Aside: I tried donating one of my board games to charity, but they said they didn’t want any Trouble.
However, what if we expanded our vision of weeds to include beautiful flowers with blooms that last for only a day, like the Day Lilly? These flowers could be wholesome activities or desires that provide wonderful short-term benefits but unfortunately still interfere with our spiritual journey. Like the mom from one of my Confirmation classes years ago, who lamented their family’s hyper-focus on soccer every weekend at the expense of their son’s faith development. After 4 years, her son was burned out on soccer & she felt that all that time & energy had been misdirected.
Aside: I need to clean up some Scrabble pieces that fell onto the floor. I don’t want anyone to lose an I.
So, what if we made our faith walk a key component of each week? We have 168 hours each week, how many of these hours do we spend in Godly pursuits?
You might be thinking, “That’s not fair! I have to work & sleep, too.” Fair enough. Let’s subtract the recommended allowance of 7 hours/day for sleep & 50 hours/week for work; we are still left with 69 hours. Now, how many of these hours do we dedicate to Godly goals?
Dad Hack: You can do combo-platters like, for example, dedicating each meal to God with a prayer of thanksgiving. You can incorporate an inspiring podcast during your commute or work-out, you can participate in a Bible study with your spouse as a date-night/God-night, or you can worship as a family & then chat about the sermon afterwards to double-dip family-time & Godly time. (Of course, lately, Chiefs’ games have provided multiple opportunities for prayer time as well.)
In summary, whether we realize it or not, we do have a Monopoly over our choices. We don’t need to be a Mastermind to catch a Clue & omit the Trivial Pursuits from our lives to avoid being caught in a Mouse Trap. Instead, we should seek God to Connect-4, well, Life. After all, the Risk is minimal & you won’t be Sorry as you reap the rewards of a life of love, joy, & peace. Who knows? God might just exclaim, “Bingo!”
If you need a refresher of what the Clue gameboard looks like:
* Wright, N. T., Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-15 (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 166). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
** From https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/35269-i-have-so-much-to-do-that-i-shall-spend.