The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.
Years ago, it was announced that a hydroelectric dam would be built in New England. When the dam was constructed, the water would flood the valley and the people in that village would have to relocate. Interestingly, after the announcement was made, before construction began, that once-pristine town became an eyesore. People quit mowing their lawns. They quit painting their homes. The town fell into disrepair. Somebody asked what the problem was, and a resident answered this way: “Where there is no hope in the future, there is no work in the present.”
That same truth applies to our relationship with God. When we lose hope, we lose all motivation to pursue our relationship with God and we are in danger of falling away from our faith.
The book of Hebrews is a warning against falling away from the faith. One reason people fall away from their faith is spiritual immaturity, but it is not the only reason. When people fall away from God, it is almost always because they lose hope. For some people, it may be adversity: the breakup of a marriage, the loss of health, the termination of a job. They say, “If God really loved me, why would He allow that to happen?” For other people, it is disillusionment: somebody they respected as a Christian disappointed them. For some people, it is unanswered prayer. They prayed for physical healing. They prayed for a job. They prayed for a prodigal child. Eventually, they say, “If God cannot answer my prayers, what use is God to me?” And they give up. Adversity, disillusionment, and unanswered prayer can quench our spiritual hunger for God.
In Matthew 13, Jesus told a parable about a sower who threw seed on the ground, and it landed on four types of different soil. Jesus said the seed represents the Word of God, and the soil represents different conditions of the human heart. Some of the seed fell on shallow soil. The seed was implanted and began to grow, but it did not have any depth and the root system had nowhere to go, so it sprung up above the ground. This plant started to flourish more than all the other plants, but when the sun came out, the plant withered under the heat because it had no root system. And that is the way it happens with a Christian who believes the Word of God, begins to bear fruit, but has no root system–when adversity comes, he falls away.
There is a formula that helps us understand how we can prevent falling away from our faith: spiritual immaturity + adversity = apostasy. And here is the flip side of that equation: spiritual maturity + hope = faithfulness. Hope is God’s anchor for us in life’s storms.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “God’s Anchor In Life’s Storms” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2018.
Steven J. Lawson and Max E. Anders, “Holman Old Testament Commentary,” vol. 10 (Nashville: B&H, 2005), 122.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.