CAREFREE BUT NOT CARELESS
Carefree is the attitude of a child. Why is it possible for a child to be carefree in the world we live in? Is it not because children leave all their cares to daddy while they simply enjoy life?
Is it possible that God’s children can live carefree lives in spite of the turmoil around us?
Jesus told His disciples a parable to illustrate the different ways in which people respond to His Word. His story was simply an observation. People are all different, and they react differently in every situation. He recognised four different ways in which people treat the Word they hear, like the seed a farmer sows in his field.
The first group is completely indifferent to what God has to say. His Word has no effect on them. It’s like the proverbial “water off a duck’s back.” Jesus called it “hard ground”. The Word falls on the ground, bounces, rolls away, and lies there until hungry birds snap it up. Why is this ground – or these hearts – so hard and unresponsive that the seed cannot penetrate and take root? The ground becomes hard when like a people walking on a footpath it is constantly trodden on.
How many people around you, even you yourself have been trodden on through the course of your life by careless people? Perhaps from early childhood, you have been neglected, rejected or even maligned by your parents and those closest to you until you have become so hard that you are indifferent both to people and to God. Your number one priority is to survive and survive you will even at the expense of others. God’s Word means nothing to you. Your defences are so strong that you allow nothing to penetrate.
Some people are like ground that has a thin layer of topsoil, but underneath and close to the surface is a layer of impenetrable rock. Seed germinates readily enough, given the right circumstances, but the hard rock prevents the roots from anchoring the plant and finding moisture and nutrients. As soon as the hot sun beats down, the plant withers and dies in its hostile environment.
I lived for eight years in an area of my country where limestone lay just under the surface of the topsoil. Gravediggers had a hard time because they had to hack through the limestone to prepare for a burial. Few trees grew in that area because the roots had a hard time penetrating the rock. Fruit trees grew for a few years and then perished because they lost the battle against the stone.
Why are some people like stony ground? I think they have learned to be opportunists. There are many people around us whose primary goal is to take care of number one. They latch onto anything that is to their advantage. Unfortunately, much of today’s so-called “gospel” preaching presents Jesus as the panacea for all ills. “Come to Jesus. He will forgive your sin and solve all your problems.” They grab the opportunity for a quick fix, but when life deals them a curve ball and Jesus does not do what they expect, they walk away and try something else.
The world is full of people like the third kind of soil.
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful (Mark 4:18-19).
I think that the third kind of soil is the pernicious problem in most people’s hearts, even ours who believe that we are true children of God. Let’s examine the truth of what Jesus was saying.
Three attitudes in our hearts leave no room for the seed to grow.
“The worries of this life” cause our minds to be split between “here” and “there”. We are here in person, but our thoughts are consumed with something that is there. We are caught up in two never-ending circles – “If only” – regrets about the past or “what if” – fears about the future. We read or hear the Word, but we are somewhere else, wrestling with problems, worries, issues for which we have no answer. The Word falls down among the thorns of worry but is soon choked and dies because our cares about the past or the future have more influence than the Word and we are no longer here.
“The deceitfulness of wealth” causes our minds to be split between “now” and “then”. Our bodies are in the “now” but our minds are dwelling on ”then” – when we have made more money, when we are free of debt or when we have enough to buy everything we want. Two questions remain unanswered: how much is “enough”, and when is “then”? The promises that the possession of money make, are an illusion. When did wealth ever solve the problems we face or satisfy the emptiness of our hearts?
What about “the desire for other things”? Split again! We have “this” but we want “that”. The Bible calls this covetousness – an insult to God since He showers His blessings on us daily. Covetousness robs us of enjoying what we have by focusing our attention on what others have.
There is a subtle form of covetousness in the body of Christ – competition over spiritual gifts. In some parts of the church, the emphasis is on “gifts” to the extent that this one covets that one’s gift because that one gets more publicity, attention, accolades etc., instead of using his or her own gift for the benefit of others. The emphasis is on what I can gain rather than on what I can give.
God yearns for one thing from His children – trust. He considers our faith in Him more precious than gold and puts it to the test in many different ways to strip off our doubts, fears and unbelief. Paul Young, the author of the bestseller, “The Shack”, said in an interview with Nicky Gumbel, that one of his two remaining prayers is,“Papa, I don’t want to be an old man one day, looking back on my life and wondering, ‘What would it have been like to the take the risk of actually trusting, to take the risk of relationship and community?’”
Staking everything on the Father and the reliability of what He said sets us free from carrying the cares that prevent us from really living now. That’s what life is all about – living carefree in the care of God. He wants us to be carefree – but not careless. Careless living is degrading and demeaning because we drop our standards and step outside of grace. However, carefree means that we have traded imaginations about things that don’t exist for the reality of our Father’s faithfulness to His promises.
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7).
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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