Where are we now... 18th April. In my Alpha 'Bible In One Year', I am up to January 29th ha!ha!ha! It's proved an impossible task for me to keep up! You see, I am one who cannot just read through, turn the page and read on.. If something has grabbed my attention, I have to stop and chew on it -and this can take some time! There have been many of these occasions which is why I am only at the end of January! But boy... The revelations I have received! If I could just spend all my days, every day reading the Bible, I would -and I would no doubt be on top of it!
Anyhow.. Onto the question in hand!
Matthew chapter 20 is one of the places in the Bible where we read reference to 'the last being first and the first, last'. I wanted to write up on this, because it hit me deeply in a new way. It is connected very much to the story of the prodigal son -in particular with regards to the attitudes and reactions of the older son and in the case of Matthew chapter 20, the labourers in the vineyard.
The whole parable is captured in verses 1-19, but I want to bring out verses 8 and 15 in particular (from the Amplified Bible):-
v8: When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, Call the workmen and pay them their wages, beginning with the last and ending with the first.
v15: Am I not permitted to do what I choose with what is mine? [Or do you begrudge my being generous?] Is your eye evil because I am good?
There is a check that Father God wants us to do on our attitudes and heart: GET A HOLD OF FATHER'S HEART!
...We see through Jesus that God always makes a bee-line to the lowest person first. Those who feel the most unworthy. Why? Because He wants them to know how cherished and esteemed in His sight they are. Jesus reveals how our Father ('My Father and your Father' says Jesus [John 20v17]) makes a point of going to the younger brother first in the story of the prodigal son, how through the patriarch Jacob, God blesses the youngest son first therefore going against the custom of the culture and in the case of the passage we are looking at right now, the 11th hour labourers -first. It's about equality and HE sure wants us to get it and get over ourselves! Sadly, our God knows our natural tendancies too well. He knows as much as we have a heart to serve him that there is still too much of 'Me' in there. There is still a "works mentality" that we have to be careful not to fall into. The reaction of the labourers who had been working for the vineyard owner all day (well, The LORD) speaks this in volumes to me... ...They had agreed to work the whole day, under the heat of the sun for the wage offered them. In His kindness, the [Lord] wanted to give the same wage to those who only worked one hour. The other workers grumbled and brought their case of injustice before Him. Suddenly, their labouring had become works-based rather than servitude based. Suddenly, it became about 'Me'. "I feel put out.." "That's unfair on me" etc.
This is not just about souls coming into the kingdom at the last minute. I think most of us do - and certainly all of us should celebrate, as Heaven does. This is more about HOW GOD CHOOSES TO USE, BLESS AND ACCELERATE those who come into His Kingdom at a time much later than those of us who have been "working for the Lord all our lives" or "all day". Whether new converts come in at noon, mid-afternoon or with only one hour of work left to do. Jesus is making a point that the The 11th hour converts are receiving the same wage as the others. As verse 15 says, can't God do as He likes? By blessing the last first, God blesses the first -by saving us from ourselves. From the pride that, until we are perfected in Heaven knowing the full reality of our salvation, naturally rises within us to elevate ourselves. The very thing that made Lucifer fall. God is reminding us of His heart, reminding us that His ways are NOT our ways (we've got it upside down!) and that He doesn't want to lose one of His sheep to pride! So let's keep our hearts humble. Let's get a hold of His heart. Let's celebrate God's goodness with those who have just come into His kingdom and encourage them on as our God ACCELERATES these precious children of his, balances out the scales (Holy Spirit is ageless and limitless after all) for the sake of how they feel about themselves and the sake of God's kingdom on Earth. Let us not be envious or jealous if an 11th hour disciple is suddenly a teacher in the prophetic.. suddenly made a watchman... We've had all our lives 'working for the Lord' -should we not be more mature in His Love? In His heart? Make the decision to serve, support and rejoice today. He is doing a timely thing... A timely acceleration as never seen before "for such a time as this" that we live in.