“The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 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. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown” (Mark 4:14-20).
Last week we discussed what the Bible says our priorities in life should be. What will the world tell you your priorities should be?
Be All You Can Be
The world is going to try to convince you to live up to your human potential. Just think what you could be if you’d just put your mind to it. The book of John calls this “the pride of life” (KJV) or the “boasting of what someone has and does” (NIV). As women, we are constantly told to achieve more. Simply being a “housewife” or a mother isn’t good enough. Anything men can do, we can do better, or so the song goes.
It starts when we’re young, as even little Christian girls are asked what they want to be when they grow up. If a young child answered that she wanted to be a wife and mommy, eyes would roll and the pushing to achieve more and more would begin. “Come on, Honey. I know you want to be a mommy, but what else do you want to be?”
Satan had the nerve to lead Jesus up to a very high mountain and show him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9). How ludicrous to tempt the Sovereign God of the universe — with more!
The problem with striving… always pushing… is that it never satisfies. It quickly turns to exhaustion and “the worries of this life,” as time for God and His kingdom is crowded out by the time required to “be all you can be.” Sadly, the Word of God that’s been planted in your life will be choked, making you unfruitful.
Get All You Can Get
The world is also going to try to convince you to seek after wealth. As 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Constantly, the world will entice you with the desire to have more than what God has given you. Timothy tells us that we can easily be content with the food before us and the clothing on our back, but is that what magazines, television, the Internet, and friends will tell you?
Even the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden had fruit that Eve saw was “good for food.” Even food can entice us, especially as the price tag continues to mount. It certainly starts to look like money is needed for happiness, doesn’t it? At least that’s what Satan wanted Eve to think.
It starts out as just a little bit of discontent, a seemingly innocent desire for something we feel we’re entitled to, but soon the little root of the “love of money” grows and grows in our hearts. As Timothy continues, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”
Grab What’s Yours
Finally, the world is going to urge you to desire anything and everything. Not just material possessions will satisfy now. Sinful actions will be required to satisfy the cravings of your heart. The lust of the flesh grows out of the lust of the eyes, and you choose to forget others in your mad dash for the next adrenaline rush.
Many addictions begin this way, as the emptiness in our hearts — the void that only Jesus can fill — is stifled with another thrill, another mountain-top experience, another seeking for elusive emotional happiness.
We can do all of this while feeling terribly spiritual. Even Jesus was urged to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the temple (what a thrill!), since He had the right to command His Father’s angels to catch Him. Right?
Even preachers and authors will tell you that you have rights with God Himself. You have needs? Just command God to answer your prayers. “He has given you authority,” they will urge you, “so take it!” So we march haughtily into the presence of God and do exactly what Jesus warned against when He answered Satan’s temptation. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matthew 4:7).
I tremble when I read about the world’s priorities, because Jesus Himself was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). I know He was God in human flesh, but His human flesh was real. How did He keep from succumbing to these temptations?
First, as the parable with which we began reminds us, the Word of God must be “sown” or planted in our hearts. Jesus didn’t dare answer the world’s calls with His own logic. Rather, He quoted Scripture, words that had likely been hidden in His heart from a very young age. I need to take care to continually be meditating upon and memorizing more of God’s Word.
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
Secondly, I must not just memorize God’s Word, but I must do what it says. One author writes that our culture has “a low view of the inspiration of Scripture” because we refuse to apply it at any point where it makes us look strange.
“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says… The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:21-22, 25).
Finally, I need to guard my thoughts, being sure that I’m thinking biblically (constantly quoting Bible verses), rather than filling my mind with the advice of well-meaning but worldly friends, advisers, and media.
“Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).