Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.” (Matthew 21:28-32)
OK, let’s squirm a bit today!
It’s quite clear that the Lord wants all of us to reflect on not only what we say to God, but especially how we follow through on our commitments.
The second son was disobedient, but so was the first. It does not take too much introspection to realize that every follower of Jesus shares something in common with each of the two sons. It is hard to admit, but too often we are like the first son. We confess as Christians that we want to follow the will of God, and yet every time we sin, we do the opposite. How many times each day do we turn away from our Heavenly Father through the words we speak or the deeds we commit or fail to commit? How many times a day do we pray and then go off and say (or post) something that is contradictory to Him?)
None of us are perfect. None of us have been good all our lives. We all sin. Just like we should take note that God does not play favorites, we should do well to remind ourselves that all of us have failed God.
Yet, just like the first son, who initially flunked the test, there is always a chance to repent. We can turn around our relationship There is never a time when we cannot start honestly working in the vineyard for Jesus.
And what do we do in that vineyard? It’s all about answering His invitation.
It is an invitation to a life of love of the other. It is a life that desires to love perfectly. All of these things are at the heart of what love is about. When Jesus was asked which of the commandments was the greatest, he answered that upon one commandment hung all the law AND the prophets: to love God, and the second was like it, to love your neighbor.
To be obedient to God is to ask in every situation, what is the loving thing? What is the thing that shows the greatest concern and care for the person standing right in front of me? Sometimes that means giving a little more mercy than is called for. Sometimes it means standing sadly and lovingly firm. Whatever it is, it is to love.
The point of this parable is that we are to serve God out of love, not out of a sense of weaseling out of what we don’t want to do for the Father who loves us so.
So here is one way of assuring that when we say we are going to do or say something for Him, we really do.
I invite you to join my Club of the Squirm. Each night, before falling off to sleep, I go through a recap of my day. I think through the good things I may have done or said but I also review the actions and words to see where I may have sinned against God (there is the squirm part). I do that but not because I want to wallow in my disobedience and disappointment. Instead, I do this so I might recognize the ways that the evil one leads us astray and more easily be on guard against his future attacks. In essence, the more I feel uncomfortable about my day, the better the chance is that the next day will be better.
Each day brings us the chance to be in a constant state of conversion, always seeking to live more faithfully so our actions match the faith we confess.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, change my heart that I may only desire that which is pleasing to you. Help me to respect your will and give me the strength, joy and perseverance to carry it out wholeheartedly.”
May we, in humility, recognize how often we imitate the first son whose promises are not matched by his actions. Then, may we rejoice that our Father in heaven calls us in love to return to Him daily like the second son, that He may forgive us, restore us and draw us closer to living the faithfulness we seek.