Summary: It is important that when we come to the Lord, we come prepared to serve and to work.
Whenever You Come, Come To Work
3/21/99 Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 Matthew 20:1-16
Suppose you had hired Jim to come and work for you. During the interview, Jim, told you “I just can’t wait to get in there and work on the job.” Well the first day on the job, the first thing Jim did was to go down to the office to sit and and wait to find out when was the first break, lunch break, and the second break. Jim was able to make it to the bathroom at least three times in between breaks. Jim informed the foreman that he could think of three ways the job could be made easier. None of his ideas were any good. Jim stopped by the office on the way home to let them know he would probably be late coming in tomorrow, and would have to have this Friday off for personal reasons. How long would you put up with Jim?
Suppose you had hired Jan. During the interview, Jan did not show as much enthusiasm but she too wanted the job. On the first day on the job, Jan had to be stopped in order to take her first break. She was the first one back from lunch and was the last one to stop working when it was time to go home. On her way past the office, the foreman said, “Jan, you did a great job today.” How long would you put up with Jan?
The wonderful and amazing thing about our God, is that when God calls us to work, He’s able to love us and to put up with all of us, both the Jims and the Jans in the church. If someone were to do an honest evaluation of your commitment to God’s work in the church, would you be rated closer to a Jim or a Jan. When we think of the ten years of ministry God has given us here at Glenville, we are thankful, because we have discovered more Jans, than Jims in the church.
The parable of the vineyard is not a parable about salvation but a story about our service to God, and why it is that we give it. The context of the story begins in chapter 19. Jesus had run into a young man, who had wanted eternal life and wanted to serve God, but he had a problem. He asked Jesus, what do I need to do to go to heaven.
Jesus told him, “If you want to have eternal life, first obey the commandments. The young man said, “which ones.” Jesus then gave him a list, and the young man had a spark in his eye thinking he qualified, he said, well I’ve kept all those, what else do I still need to do.” Jesus told him, “look right now, I can tell you love your money and your things, far more than love you love God. If you want what you’re looking for, go sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.
Well the young man, went away sad, because in having to choose between his wealth and following Jesus, he chose his wealth. But let’s not to be hard on the young man, because many of us make the same choice with our wealth, only unlike the young man, we tell ourselves, “yes I can love the Lord and not give what he asks me to give.” At least the rich man was honest with Jesus from the start and turned and walked away.
When Peter saw that the young ruler went away, an element of pride came into his life. He said, “Jesus, we have left everything to follow you. What kind of a reward is there going to be for us.” Peter is saying, we have been working with you since you started preaching. It’s not possible for anybody to get more than what we should get. In saying this though, Peter was displaying an attitude that we all must recognize in ourselves as a dangerous one. That attitude is, “Lord, I’m not in this because of who you are and what you’ve done for me. I’m only in it for the money at the end.”