Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 2: "The Sower Went Forth to Sow"
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The gospel seed often falls among thorns and noxious
weeds; and if there is not a moral transformation in the
human heart, if old habits and practices and the former life
of sin are not left behind, if the attributes of Satan are not
expelled from the soul, the wheat crop will be choked. The
thorns will come to be the crop, and will kill out the wheat.
Grace can thrive only in the heart that is being
constantly prepared for the precious seeds of truth. The
thorns of sin will grow in any soil; they need no cultivation;
but grace must be carefully cultivated. The briers and
thorns are always ready to spring up, and the work of
purification must advance continually. If the heart is not
kept under the control of God, if the Holy Spirit does not
work unceasingly to refine and ennoble the character, the
old habits will reveal themselves in the life. Men may
profess to believe the gospel; but unless they are sanctified [p. 51] by the gospel their profession is of no avail. If they do
not gain the victory over sin, then sin is gaining the victory
over them. The thorns that have been cut off but not
uprooted grow apace, until the soul is overspread with them.
Christ specified the things that are dangerous to the
soul. As recorded by Mark He mentions the cares of
this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other
things. Luke specifies the cares, riches, and pleasures of
this life. These are what choke the word, the growing
spiritual seed. The soul ceases to draw nourishment from
Christ, and spirituality dies out of the heart.
"The cares of this world." No class is free from the
temptation to worldly care. To the poor, toil and deprivation
and the fear of want bring perplexities and burdens.
To the rich come fear of loss and a multitude of anxious
cares. Many of Christ's followers forget the lesson He
has bidden us learn from the flowers of the field. They
do not trust to His constant care. Christ cannot carry
their burden, because they do not cast it upon Him.
Therefore the cares of life, which should drive them to the
Saviour for help and comfort, separate them from Him.
Many who might be fruitful in God's service become
bent on acquiring wealth. Their whole energy is absorbed
in business enterprises, and they feel obliged to neglect
things of a spiritual nature. Thus they separate themselves
from God. We are enjoined in the Scriptures to be "not
slothful in business." Rom. 12:11. We are to labor that we
may impart to him who needs. Christians must work, they
must engage in business, and they can do this without
committing sin. But many become so absorbed in business
that they have no time for prayer, no time for the study of
the Bible, no time to seek and serve God. At times the longings
of the soul go out for holiness and heaven; but there [p. 52] is no time to turn aside from the din of the world to listen
to the majestic and authoritative utterances of the Spirit
of God. The things of eternity are made subordinate, the
things of the world supreme. It is impossible for the seed
of the word to bring forth fruit; for the life of the soul
is given to nourish the thorns of worldliness.
And many who are working with a very different
purpose, fall into a like error. They are working for others'
good; their duties are pressing, their responsibilities are
many, and they allow their labor to crowd out devotion.
Communion with God through prayer and a study of His
word is neglected. They forget that Christ has said, "Without
Me ye can do nothing." John 15:5. They walk apart
from Christ, their life is not pervaded by His grace, and the
characteristics of self are revealed. Their service is marred
by desire for supremacy, and the harsh, unlovely traits of
the unsubdued heart. Here is one of the chief secrets of
failure in Christian work. This is why its results are often
"The deceitfulness of riches." The love of riches has
an infatuating, deceptive power. Too often those who
possess worldly treasure forget that it is God who gives them
power to get wealth. They say, "My power and the
might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth." Deut.
8:17. Their riches, instead of awakening gratitude to God,
lead to the exaltation of self. They lose the sense of their
dependence upon God and their obligation to their fellow
men. Instead of regarding wealth as a talent to be
employed for the glory of God and the uplifting of humanity,
they look upon it as a means of serving themselves. Instead
of developing in man the attributes of God, riches thus used
are developing in him the attributes of Satan. The seed
of the word is choked with thorns. [p. 53]
"And pleasures of this life." There is danger in amusement
that is sought merely for self-gratification. All habits
of indulgence that weaken the physical powers, that becloud
the mind, or that benumb the spiritual perceptions, are
"fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." 1 Peter 2:11.
"And the lusts of other things." These are not necessarily
things sinful in themselves, but something that is
made first instead of the kingdom of God. Whatever
attracts the mind from God, whatever draws the affections
away from Christ, is an enemy to the soul.
When the mind is youthful and vigorous and susceptible
of rapid development, there is great temptation to be
ambitious for self, to serve self. If worldly schemes are
successful, there is an inclination to continue in a line that
deadens conscience, and prevents a correct estimate as to
what constitutes real excellence of character. When
circumstances favor this development, growth will be seen
in a direction prohibited by the word of God.
In this formative period of their children's life, the
responsibility of parents is very great. It should be their
study to surround the youth with right influences, influences
that will give them correct views of life and its true success.
Instead of this, how many parents make it their first object
to secure for their children worldly prosperity. All their
associations are chosen with reference to this object. Many
parents make their home in some large city, and introduce
their children into fashionable society. They surround them
with influences that encourage worldliness and pride. In
this atmosphere the mind and soul are dwarfed. The high
and noble aims of life are lost sight of. The privilege of
being sons of God, heirs of eternity, is bartered for worldly
gain. [p. 54]
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