Updated: Nov 12
Matthew 21:28-32 (ESV)
“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
Yesterday, I mentioned that we should not worry, and that we should be about the Lord’s Kingdom and His righteousness. So what do we mean by this? How can we break it down into terms that make it easier? Over the next couple of Thursdays, (we call it Thursday Theology for a reason), I will attempt to handle this difficult topic in a way that will help all of us to do a better job, or have a better understanding on what this means. I am not as learned as Pastor Rob, but I will do my best. If anyone else has an insight, that helps, please email me, Hobbit1981@protonmail.com, and I will try to incorporate it into the mix. So here we go.
In today’s Scripture, Jesus is taunting the Scribes and Pharisees, yet the story is valid for all of us. I think that Jesus is telling us that God cares for our actions, more than our words. We all say I am going to do this, or I am not going to do that. Then we talk ourselves out of, or into, doing exactly the opposite. I do this all the time. I hate this about myself. I am wishy washy at times. At other times, I am the eternal optimist, and think I can do anything, and sometimes I can’t. Or it is much harder, and takes much more time than I had planned. But enough about me.
What this story teaches us, is that God wants our obedience. While I am certain that He cares about our words, our actions are much more important, especially our actions after we think things through, because thought went into them. God wants our surrender. We need to do things His way. Sometimes it does not seem to make sense, forgiving even those who do not ask for forgiveness. Blessing those who curse you. Turning the other cheek. You get the idea.
Getting back on topic, God’s Kingdom is all about bringing the love and forgiveness that God has blessed us with to others, We should make this our first concern. If God did not want us to impact the world around us with His mercy and love, He would have taken us home to be with Him the moment we became Christian. But He wants us to make a difference. So He leaves us here, but not as orphans. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide and advise us. He has given us His Word, to use to interpret this life. The Scriptures tell us many things that are easy to understand, and many things that are difficult. They are both clear, and cryptic. This is why it tells us in 2 Timothy 2:15 (Youngs Literal Translation, YLT) "be diligent to present thyself approved to God--a workman irreproachable, rightly dividing the word of the truth;" We must study, and check what we think we understand with others. We have discussed before how the Scriptures tell us that as Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Thus we should regularly meet with other believers, studying the Scriptures, discussing the understanding we have, and let the Holy Spirit guide us all into all righteousness, and the proper understanding.
by Virgil Stripes