"The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity."
- Luke 8:14
I have always been amazed by weeds. You can take a little flower, plant it in the perfect location, water it, and make sure there are no pests to threaten it. You can do everything possible for that flower, and it will slowly grow. But then, in the same amount of time, some weed springs up from a little crack in the sidewalk, and that weed chokes out the flower.
But the weed doesn't suddenly burst out of the ground, grab the flower, and start shaking it. The process is gradual. First, there is a flower growing, and then the weed appears. The next day, the weed is a little closer. And on it goes until the weed starts to wrap itself around the flower and choke out its growth.
That is what Jesus was describing in the parable of the sower when He spoke about those who are "choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity" (Luke 8:14). This is not something that happens overnight; it happens over a period of time.
I also find it interesting that it is the "cares, riches, and pleasures of life" that prevent the seed of God's Word from maturing and producing fruit. These are not necessarily bad things, in and of themselves. But these are good things that became the most important things and choked out the spiritual things.
This is not a picture of someone who says they don't want to pray, read the Bible, or go to church. Rather, this represents someone who thinks those are good things to do. But over time, they start losing interest, and the things of this world become more important to them than the things of the next world. And that is what chokes them out spiritually.