“Other seed fell among the thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.” Matthew 13:7 (NIV)
This fall we are looking at The Parable of the Sower. Jesus shares the story of a farmer scattering his seeds in hopes that they will grow into fruitful crops. Unfortunately, many of the seeds do not become fruitful crops or even crops at all for a variety of reasons. Jesus uses these ‘crop failures’ to teach us spiritual lessons about what to avoid and what to prioritize when teaching others to follow Jesus.
In August we looked at the seed that fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. We looked at the birds the enemy uses to steal God’s Word from our children’s hearts and minds and how to equip our kids to fully understand His Word.
In September we looked at the seed that fell on the rocky places and how that seed sprang up quickly because it had little soil. We looked at how to provide good soil for our kids, cultivate deeper roots for them, and how to prevent trials from turning our kids from God.
This month we are discussing the seed that fell among the thorns and was choked. So, what are these thorns that could choke our kids spiritually? Last week we looked at the thorn representing the worries of life. Today we will look at the second one. See Jesus’ explanation of the parable in both Matthew and Luke…
“The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22 (NIV)
“The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Luke 8:14 (NIV)
In the second description of the thorn, Jesus talks about riches and pleasures making people
unfruitful. These thorns are choking our kids’ spiritual life and preventing them from maturing in their faith.
The deceitfulness of wealth brings to mind the Parable of the Lost Son: A father had two sons. The older son was faithful to his father, but the younger son was lured by riches and pleasure and asked for his inheritance early. He left home (analogous to turning away from God) and spent all he had until he had nothing left. He knew he had rebelled against his father and messed up big time. He went home to humbly ask his father if he could be his servant. This story illustrates well the deceitfulness of wealth. I am sure the lost son had not thought through his decision before leaving home realizing his plan was a bad idea. Instead, he was wooed by the dream of living the high life, full of pleasure and fun, while his older brother slaved away on his father’s farm. The enemy tries to do this to our kids – deceiving them into thinking the grass is greener on the other side and luring them to chase after pleasures and money rather than God.
How can we prevent our kids from falling for the deceitfulness of wealth?
1. Teach your kids what the Bible says about wealth.
Our kids need to know and understand that the love of money is truly the root to all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10).
Another helpful verse to teach our kids is Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (ESV)
A third important verse for our kids to learn comes from Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (ESV)
Talk about what these verses mean and how to keep yourselves from the love of money. Talk about what that practically looks like. Should money or buying more things be soemthing we are constantly thinking about? What should we fill our mind with instead? What should we focus on according to God’s Word? When our children are cautioned from a young age not to chase after money, they will be more apt to live that out as adults.
2. Do not prioritize the ‘American Dream’ with your family.
By American Dream, I mean focusing on gaining more status, wealth, and material items to be happy and to “keep up with the Joneses.” If our children leave home with a love for money over God, they can be easily swept away by the materialistic culture around them, either turning from their faith or never growing and maturing in it. Instead, teach and model a life of serving the Lord and surrendering to whatever plans He has for you. Encourage your kids to pray about what career God is leading them into rather than picking a profession just becasue it makes a lot of money. These types of ideas can be very countercultural, but when our kids grow up knowing their life is not all about being happy and successful but about serving the Lord, they will have the right mindset that will carry into adulthood.
3. Demonstrate and teach generosity.
Our kids need to understand that every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17) and all that we have ultimately belongs to the Lord. When we teach kids to tithe from a young age, even from their extra chore money or lemonade stand, it will set good habits for them as teenagers and adults because it will be their way of life. Include your kids in any special donations God puts on your heart to give as a family. This will allow your kids to see first hand the blessing it is to be generous with others. Having a heart of generosity will help prevent money from becoming an idol in their lives one day.
Teaching our kids what God’s Word says about the pursuit of wealth will help them to understand the importance of not idolizing money. When we raise kids counter-culturally, not pursuing the American dream, but pursuing God and demonstrating generosity, the thorns won’t have a chance to grow up around them and choke them. Having a surrendered heart, they will be able to grow spiritually and make a great impact on the world with their generous hearts, free of the love of money.