“Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. ” Mark 4:5-6
The second seed and soil combination illustrates what happens when God’s word is proclaimed and people quickly “receive it with gladness” but don’t adequately prepare themselves so that their relationship with God’s word can endure trial and tribulation.
The people represented by the stony ground are weak, not because they heard and accepted God’s word quickly and gladly but because they accepted God’s word according to their own righteousness and expectations. The Bible contains the record of many who quickly heard the witness of Jesus, accepted it, and decided to follow yet endured. What’s necessary to ensure that you’re not a stony ground hearer is that you be willing to fully count the cost of accepting the call to follow Jesus.
Selfishness and self-righteousness have no place. There can be no endurance and maturity in the life that pursues a relationship with God on it’s own terms, in it’s own strength, according to it’s own standards. A relationship with Christ demands that self be denied, that our expectations be submitted to the direction and will of God, that our understanding of right and wrong be directed, not by self, but wholly and only by the word of God. Anything less is of self and is a shallow, surface, relationship that cannot endure the trials that will come to test our connection with Christ.
If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us need to admit that there’s a great deal of self in our relationship with Jesus. We’re very happy to accept Jesus, just don’t ask us to change this or that in our lives. So we keep doing our jobs even though doing so compromises our convictions of what truly serving God and his people really means. We keep entertaining ourselves even though we know we’re stepping over the line from godliness into wickedness, sensuality, and violence. I could go on…
Friends, any weakness in our submission and surrender to Jesus will be revealed by the trials this life will bring. Truly following Jesus requires that today we willingly leave our strength, our lives, and ourselves on the altar for Jesus and claim as our only possessions Christ and his righteousness.