Monday, January 26, 2009
What Am I Going to Get Out of It
Please read Matthew 19:27-20:16. President William Mckinley once wrote to Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, "For labor, a short day is better than a short dollar." What would he say to the men in this story who had a long day and a short dollar? We must not jump to the conclusion that Jesus did not know what He was talking about, or that He stretched the truth in order to make a point. He was a keen observer of the ways of men. The parable is not about salvation. Nobody works for salvation, and certainly nobody is going to complain about own salvation or somebody elses'. Nor is Christ dealing with gaining rewards. "And every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor" (I Cor. 3:8). That didn't happen in this parable. Jesus was warning His disciples about a wrong attitude in service. The setting of the parable makes this clear. Do you remember when the rich young ruler refused to give his all and follow Christ? It was on this occasion Jesus warned His disciples about riches. Peter responded in a natural way. He had forsaken all, what was he going to get? The Lord's answer was encouraging, God would repay them a hundredfold for their sacrifice. However Jesus detected in Peter's question an attitude of heart that was dangerous. To counteract this subtle attitude of "What am I going to get?" The Lord told this parable, and in it, He gave several warnings that relate to Christian service. First, Don't make bargains with God. Day laborers would gather in the town market place early in the morning, employers would hire them for the day. The owner of the vineyard was anxious to get his harvest in. He went to town at 6AM. 3PM. and 5PM. We learn there are two kinds of workers. The men hired early in the morning would not go to work until they know how much they would make. The other workers had no contract. At pay time the first received exactly the amount they had bargained for. This applied to Peter. He was signing a contract. The lesson is, don't make bargains with God. Let Him write the contract and pay the wages, for He is generous. If we write the contract and tell God what we want, we will always be the losers. If we let God do it His way, we will receive exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:20). Our Master in heaven does not limit Himself to what is just and equal. He gives what is gracious and generous. God is more interested in our heart attitudes than in our work. If our hearts are right our work will be right, if our hearts are selfish, our work will suffer. Our relationship to the Master is most important. Do we trust Him? Do we believe His Word? Are we willing to work without a contract. Second, Don't watch other workers. The disciples were often guilty of watching other people and drawing wrong conclusions. A man cast out a demon, but since the man did not belong to their group, they rebuked him. In response Jesus rebuked them. The disciples were not able to cast out demons, but they dared attack those whose success exposed their own failures. When we get our eyes off the Lord and start watching others certain symptoms show up. We begin to envy others. We have an evil eye when we can't see anything good about another. When we start comparing we start coveting, and complaining. We get bitter toward God. We feel that God given us a raw deal. The Elder Brother said "These many years have I served you." It is sin for believers to watch one another and judge one another. We need to watch over one another in tender love and seek to help one another. When we keep our eyes on other Christians they come between God and us. We need to learn as believers, that we are co laborers, not competitors. We must seek to please the Master. Third, Don't be overconfident. Whenever we are tempted to boast about our work, or belittle anothers' work, we ought to read I Cor. 4:5). Our judgments are faulty because we do not see a persons heart. It is the motive that determines the value of the ministry. We must not serve God only for reward. The main lesson of this parable is that workers must watch their motives and be sure they are serving God because of love for Him. A good example of this was Jonah. He did God's work, but he was not in God's will, nor did he please God's heart. Did Peter learn the lesson Christ was trying to teach? You can find the answer in Acts 3:6. Are you willing to serve without as contract? Do you trust God's Word and really believe that God is generous? Or are you bitter because somebody else got what you may think is a better deal? Are you a people watcher? What changes are you going to make because of today's lesson? Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.