In Jeremiah 4:3, God talks about plowing up the field of the heart and not sowing among the thorns. In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable of the soils of the heart and in verse 22, He explains the thorny soil…
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
Thorns are a part of the curse in Genesis 3:17-18;
And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
Thorns are painful. Whether it is a rose bush, bramble, cactus … the thorns hurt. Some cactus thorns will work their way deep into the skin, some even though you got it out can leave and infected type wound.
The same with the thorns that poke the heart. I recently started reading a book that is coming out in February for review. It starts out with a very thorny scene and one I could relate to. A young college student was home for Christmas. She was given a box to open by her dad which had shirts in it of the family business and a new logo. The logo she had shared with her boyfriend while she was at school. When she said something to her dad about using her logo, he accused her of taking credit of her boyfriend’s work. She said she had some ideas to help the business and her dad informed her boyfriend would be doing that. Basically, because she was a woman it was her job to make appointments, and handle the mail. She would be there to support the men. Her boyfriend stood next to her father with a smirk on his face the whole time. Not at all what she had talked about with her grandfather, who started the photography business, but he had died and her dad was left in charge. The scene ends with her in her room packing up what belongings were not at school already and questioning God.
Her thorns from her father and boyfriend hurt. Some of them worked their way deep down deep into her heart. They tore a wound that quickly filled with the puss of bitterness. Not only towards her dad and boyfriend, who had just asked her to marry him, she was bitter towards God for how things turned out.
This is what Jesus was talking about in His parable of the soils. How the cares of the world would come along and choke out the new life found in Him. We walk around this world and like some cactus the thorns jump at you if you get to close and start their painful track to the heart. Words, actions, even lack of action, death of a loved one … can all become painful thorns stuck in our heart and when left alone can turn us into a bitter person, even bitter against God.
So how do we not get pricked by the thorns of life?
The first thing we see in Jeremiah 4:3, is to plow the fallow ground. Fallow ground has not been worked for a while, it is dry, hard and even weed filled. This is our heart before we come to Jesus. It is His love, grace, and mercy that breaks up the hardness of our heart. Once we allow Him to clean out the weeds and debris that had built up in our heart, His Word plows rows in our hearts as paths we need to follow to plant His word.
Next, we have to pay attention to what we let take root in our hearts. The hurts of life can only root and grow their thorns that cause such pain and suffering if we fail to forgive, sometimes we have to as God for His strength to forgive. It is when we up root those hurts with forgiveness, His grace, love, and mercy soothes the wound. Bitterness won’t have a place to take root and the thorns causing the wound to fester and grow. Forgiveness can be the hardest thing to do sometimes however, remembering all that Jesus went through and yet He forgave those that put Him on the cross, which includes me and you, how can we not forgive?
(Photo by my mom, Sue London)