Summary: Idleness and indifference are devastating to the work of Christ. we are called to be busy for the Master.


Matthew 20:1-16

INTRODUCTION: In this story Christ draws attention to a familiar event in Palestine. The grapes in the vineyard ripened towards the end of September needing to be harvested before the rains came. Often a frantic race against time ensued, for if the harvest were not collected before the rains broke, then it would be ruined. Early in the morning, around 6:00 a.m., a grower called for workers to bring in the harvest and hired those who responded to his call. At 9:00 o’clock he noticed a number of men standing idly in the marketplace and hired them. Needing more workers he went again at 12:00 and 3:00 p.m. hiring additional laborers. At 5:00 p.m. only one hour before the end of the workday, the grower went out and found a number of individuals who were not working for anyone and asked the rebuking question, “Why stand ye here all day idle? They excuse themselves by stating that no man had hired them. They were only deceiving themselves. The reality was that they had chosen to be idle. The word that the landowner used to describe the condition of these men was argos which denotes "inactive, idle, unfruitful, barren, useless". There was great work to be done and they were just standing around. In a similar vein at the ascension of Christ the apostles stood looking into the sky into which the Lord ascended. When two messengers from God appear to them and ask, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” (Acts 1:11) Now was not the time to stand around. Now was time to get to the great work at hand – to be kingdom builders in a lost world by harvesting souls through the great commission.

I. There is a great work that needs to be done.

A. Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. [19] Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

B. The Christian is called upon to be the partner of God in the work of the conversion of men. – William Barclay (1907-1978)

C. The task is Great - Luke 10:2 “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.”

D. It is Urgent - John 4:35 “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then comes harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”

E. The workers are few - Matthew 9:37-38 “Then said he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; [38] Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.”

II. There is a desperate need for laborers in the work.

A. Matthew 9:38 “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.”

B. Consider the fact that the excuse the men in our opening text gave was that no man hired them. They knew there was work that had to be done. They knew that there was urgency to the work. Because of the impending rains. They knew that hiring was taking place. But because no man came up to them and personally gave them a job to do they stood around all day doing nothing.

C. There are Christians who are aware of the great work that needs to be accomplished in the church and in the world. They are aware that men, women, boys and girls are dying without Jesus Christ. They are aware of the need to disciple believers and to build Christ’s kingdom. They are aware of the need for Sunday School teachers, Youth Workers, Children’s Ministry Workers, Soul Winners, Personal Workers, Visitation Workers, Counselors, Pray Warriors, Musicians, Singers, Senior Ministry Workers, Shut-in Ministry Workers, Maintenance Workers, Janitors, Ushers, Greeters, Mentors, Gardeners, Cooks, Painters, Cleaners, Deacons, Ministers, Missionaries, Nursing Home Ministry Workers, and a myriad of other positions and tasks to done in and through the church. But because the pastor or some other leader has not approached them personally and asked them to do a particular task they just stand around idly allowing the work to go undone.

D. Luke 19:13 “And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.”

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