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Summary: Dealing with a right perspective of things

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“Greed and Grace”

Matthew 20

1/11/98

INTRO: As I have started out the new year, I have set a goal for myself. I mentioned to you that I encouraged each of you to read the Bible through this year. For myself, I am going to try to read the Bible through four times this year, once each quarter. I’ve been reading in Exodus this week, about God’s giving the Old Testament law to the Israelites. As you read through large sections at one time, often you see things you might have missed. One thing that really struck me is how selfish and self-centered the Jews are. As God gives the ten commandments, he spends much time giving small details about “what if” someone steals your cattle, hurts your servant, etc. The Jews fought a lot over possessions and lands. The book of Genesis shows this. The Jews are really selfish people. Let’s look at our lesson today in Matthew 20:1-16.

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I. Teachings about Greed

Jesus has hired servants to work for him. He hires different workers at different times. He starts early in the morning, hiring workers, agreeing on the “union scale rate of pay.” He pays what is expected. This is a normal working agreement.

Later on, he hires more workers, but because of the hour of day, they don’t set a price, He simply says he will pay them fairly. They trust him and work for him. And so on through the day.

As paychecks are given out, those working only a little receive full pay. Those who worked the full day have no problem with this: they just expect to be paid more. Yet when they are not, they complain.

I imagine as Jesus told this lesson, the first response would have been like the workers: that’s not fair! But let’s talk about it.

I mentioned that as I have been reading I seen how selfish and greedy the Jews are. But can I tell you something that might shock you: we are no different. I have much opportunity to see this. We are a very selfish, greedy lot: even Christians in the church! Sometimes the truly generous people we know are not Christians, but the unsaved.

##Joel - In college, I used to work for a millionaire’s son. He had low income rental units, and I fixed them up. He normally hired people with letters after their name or people with numbers under their name: college grads or crooks. Joel had agreed to pay me a wage. It was a fair wage. Maybe even more than fair. I worked for him regularly and earned my pay. Joel also had a friend, Scott Hooker, who married an extremely wealthy girl. Scott didn’t work: he didn’t have to. However, Scott would work for Joel to get spending cash between his trips to the gym and trips to the beach. Scott would “piddle” around, not doing a whole lot, but get paid the same as me. I’ll admit it. I didn’t think it was fair. Why? I thought if I worked harder, I should be paid more. You’ve been there before, haven’t you?

##C&C - I worked doing industrial insulation. We were a non-union company. Yet at times we worked on a union job as sub-contractors. Everyone who worked on those jobs got union scale pay. You better believe that everyone in the company kept track of who worked the high pay jobs and how long they got the high pay. Something about us keeps us from rejoicing in the victories of another. We want the glory. It’s called sin! How is your heart today?

A. Equality vs. Fairness - The first thing we see in this parable is that Jesus never claims to treat the workers equally, but fairly. No one is cheated or wronged. Everyone gets what they bargained for. All but the first workers are given graciously more than they earned. God is fair.

Sometimes we feel God needs to treat us equally, but that teaching is never found in the Bible. How do you feel if someone else is blessed of God?

Romans 12:15 - Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Let’s make sure we can rejoice in what God does in a brother or sister’s life. Let’s make sure we can rejoice in how God blesses another church. Some people talk about what is happening at Robinson Chapel, North Summit, Pine Hills, or any other church. Praise God! I hope they fill thier sanctuary five times every Sunday! Let’s not be so selfish and territorial that we can’t rejoice in the good God does in someone else’s life.

-Did a friend or co-worker get a raise? Celebrate with them, don’t complain behind their back.

##Ray - Ronda’s mom and dad always try to treat each of their children equally. We’ve told them before they don’t need to buy us something because they bought the other sibling something. We know they love us and will treat us kindly. We don’t feel we need to all be treated equally, just to be treated fairly.

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