“He that receiveth the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but endures for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
The seed sown upon stony ground springs up quickly, but the root cannot penetrate the rock to find nutriment, and it soon perishes. Many who make a profession of religion are stony-ground hearers. Like the rock underlying the layer of earth, the selfishness of the natural heart underlies the soil. This class may be easily convinced, and appear to be bright converts, but they have only a superficial religion.
As soon as the divine word comes God desires us to receive it, and it is right to accept it with joy. But those who in the parable are said to receive the word immediately, do not count the cost. They do not consider what the word of God requires of them.
It is by the invisible union of the soul with Christ, through faith, that the spiritual life is nourished. But the stony-ground hearers depend upon self. They trust in their good works and are self-righteous.
The hot summer sun destroys the plant which has no depth of root. Many receive the gospel as a way of escape from suffering, rather than as a deliverance from sin. They rejoice for a season, for they think that religion will free them from difficulty and trial.
When the Word of God points out some cherished sin or requires self-denial or sacrifice, they are offended. It would cost them too much effort to make a radical change in their life.
There are very many who claim to serve God, but their conduct is not brought into harmony with the law of God. They have not a personal relation with a living Saviour, and their characters reveal defects both hereditary and cultivated.
Many feel a sense of estrangement from God, a realization of their bondage to self and sin; they make efforts for reform, but they do not give up their particular sins. With each wrong act, the old selfish nature is gaining strength.
The only hope for these souls is to realize in themselves the truth of Christ’s words, “Except a man be born from above, he can not see the kingdom of God.” John 3: 3
True holiness is wholeness in the service of God. Christ demands the heart, the mind, the soul, the strength. He who lives to himself is not a Christian.
Love must be the principle of action. This alone can make and keep him steadfast.
The effort to serve both self and Christ makes one a stony-ground hearer, and will not endure when the test comes upon him.
“Adapted from Christ’s Object Lessons”