The earthly affections in the heart which render religion unfruitful in the life are enumerated under two heads,—“The care of this world,” and “the deceitfulness of riches;” the term riches includes also, as we may gather from Luke’s narrative, the pleasures which riches procure. Both from our own experience in the world and the specific terms employed by the Lord in the interpretation of the parable, we learn that all classes and all ranks are on this side exposed to danger. This is not a rich man’s business, or a poor man’s; it is every man’s business. The words point to the two extremes of worldly condition, and include all that lies between them. “The care of the world” becomes the snare of those who have little, and “the deceitfulness of riches,” the snare of those who have much. Thus the world wars against the soul, alike when it smiles and when it frowns. Rich and poor have in this matter no room and no right to cast stones at each other. Pinching want and luxurious profusion are, indeed, two widely diverse species of thorns; but when favoured by circumstances they are equally rank in their growth and equally effective in destroying the precious seed.
It was where the seed and the thorns grew together that the mischief was done. If the grain is permitted to occupy alone the heart of the field, the thorns that grow outside and around it may constitute a hedge of defence, not only harmless but useful. There is a place for cares, and for riches too,—a place in which they help and do not hinder the kingdom of God. Kept in its own sphere, the lawful business of life becomes a protecting fence round the tender plant of grace in a Christian’s heart. Permit not the thorns to occupy the position which is due to the good seed. Not as rivals within the field, but as guards around it, earthly affairs are innocent and safe. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
-William Arnot, The Parables of Our Lord.