This week we return to Matthew in our Morning Worship hour. As I began my final preparations for the coming message, the way Jesus sets up the parable in Matthew 21:33-46 caught my attention.
Why? Look at the picture to the left. How many people do you think understand their relationship with God as this type of “give and take” relationship? In this picture you can see that one guy appears to hold the rope better and be stronger. The other guy is no pushover since he helps keep the rope taut. As is often the case, this sort of tug-of-war between near equals will leave both persons on their bottom. Is this the type of relationship we have with the Lord? Does the Lord need us to keep the rope taut?
The first few verses of Matthew give us a slightly different picture of our relationship with God. The relationship in view is that of a share-cropper with an owner. Look at the picture to the side. In this picture you see a key and a tenant’s agreement. The owner gives the tenant the key so long as he gives his word that he will live by the agreement. This agreement normally has some sort of payment that the owner will receive at harvest time, however he does not forcibly take the payment, he passively receives what the tenant gives to him. If the tenant takes the payment that he owes the owner, the owner will take the tenant’s key and legal right to make a living. There is no equality in this relationship. The owner is ENTITLED to payment. The tenant must EXPECTANTLY await the owner’s due date.
How does this apply to our lives as believers? As believers we must constantly guard against the thought that we are entitled to God’s grace. His yoke is so easy, and burden so light that we can often forget that He does expect that believers will expectantly devote themselves to pleasing Him. Note with me that in the first verses the owner, not the tenants builds everything needed for a vineyard to operate and workers to live. Christ makes the same arrangement for believers. Like the Master in the parable, Jesus requires the whole crop in its season.
Don’t believe me? Read through the whole parable again. The master’s requirement is not a percentage of the fruit. The master’s requirement is not the majority of the fruit. The master sends his servants asking for the entire crop. Even the Jews recognized this in verse 41.
Thus, believers, do not think that your life is your own. If you genuinely believe…
- You do not have the right to indulge in some secret sin activity l(ike pornography, theft or embezzlement; drunkenness from alcohol, pain killers, or some other sort of drug).
- You do not have the right to ignore acceptable sins (like gossip, anger, envy, covetousness, lust, slander, or pride).
- You do not have the right to live in public, unrepentant sin (which becomes evident by events like arrest, known cohabitation, filing for divorce, getting caught for cheating or stealing, or public heretical testimony on social media like Facebook) without having servants of God address your sinfulness.
Even so, as believers, we also realize that our Lord is a God of grace! If you genuinely believe…
- You can expect that no matter how great or how small your harvest of righteousness actually is, the Lord cares more about your devotion than your yield.
- You can expect that the Lord will not ignore your needs since he desires that you produce increasingly greater good fruit so that men can glorify the One who provides for you.
- You can expect that the Lord’s servants will support and encourage you since you help them to serve the Lord too!