July 14

Text: Matthew 21:28-31

"But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.'  And he answered and said, 'I will, sir'; and he did not go.  And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, 'I will not'; yet he afterward regretted it and went. “Which of the two did the will of his father?" They *said, "The latter."  (NASB)

To feel the full force of Jesus’ parable, we must transport ourselves back into their society 2000 years ago.  Two essential facts: (1) They lived in an agricultural society.  (2) They had no way of preserving ripe grapes—no freezing, canning, etc.  When the grapes were ready to be harvested, the need was an urgent “now.”  Neither procrastination nor mere good intentions were options.  If the harvest was significant, the help of everyone in the family was needed—right then!  The abundance of the moment would become scarcity shortly.  Food and drink later depended on the action of now!

The parable: A man had two children.  He asked the first child to go work in the vineyard that day.  The child said, “Certainly!” but never went.  Shortly thereafter the man asked his second child to do the same thing.  The child said, “No!”  However, he later regretted his response to his father and went.

The question: Which child did the father’s will?

The correct answer: The last did the father’s will.

The contrast is between self-serving words of devotion AND unselfish acts of devotion.  It is simple to say what you know someone wants to hear and then do as you please.  It often is hard to actually do what someone requests of you.

It is simple to think we can deceive God with our words by telling Him what we are sure He wishes to hear.  It is demanding to serve God with our efforts.  God is not deceived with word promises.  He sees all service rendered in humble submission.  Words never deceive God.  Efforts never escape His notice.  God is not into the promises of flattering declarations, but into the efforts of service.

How often we feel God is deceived if we tell Him what He longs to hear, but He is blind to what we actually do.

Suggestion for reflection: In following Jesus’ example, are you devoted to words or service?  (Read James 1:21-27.)

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