Am I in Danger of Being the Prodigal Son’s Elder Bro?

Today I will share the significant lessons I learnt from the Lord to apply in my personal life from our sermon. Pray it will bless your heart as it has exhorted and encouraged my spirit. : )

Matthew 19:16-30

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Our Pastor talked about how each of us, like the rich man, has many other ‘treasures’ as the centre of our lives. Jesus asked him to part with his wealth if he sincerely wanted to follow Him. It’s the same with us. Maybe not wealth, maybe family, TV, Games etc. The important thing is to prioritise and place Jesus at the centre in our lives.

Then Jesus’ disciples surveyed the situation asked him what would THEY get in return for casting everything and following Him?

Jesus firstly acknowledged their sacrifices and  promised a hundred times a reward and eternal life. But it was followed by a baffling warning –

30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Our Pastor unraveled the above mystery (which baffled me for ages) with the next story on the vineyard.

Mathew 20:1-16

 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius[a]for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

The above scenario in context had depicted a middle class group of free people, neither bonded as slaves to masters nor merchants who own business. The former at least had meals to survive under their masters’ house, the latter had all. This group had to rely on the mercies of the rich to give them a job. Therefore the groups of people waiting for someone to employ them for a wage.

In short, those who had worked the whole day, had gotten the same wage as those whom the owner engaged for lesser. (i.e. those who worked only half day, 3 hrs and one hr)

Pastor illustrated that when the first group were engaged for the day, they began with joy and later however lost that joy when they began to compare with those who came in much later (=worked less). They had feelings of jealousy and discontentment.

Those who were called in about 12noon to work half a day and yet received a full day’s wage, would be quite grateful. Those who started at 3pm and got the same returns, one can imagine a happier lot. The last group who thought there might not have ANY hope for a meal that day, when called in to work for the last hour, having gained a full day’s pay went away with such joy and gratefulness to the Grace extended unto them.

So the first became the last in those imbalanced feelings while the last had been rewarded with the joy of grace showered unto him.

Pastor explicitly pointed out that our human nature is such that we would expect returns for our work/ contribution.  Due to this mentality of having ‘rights’ and ‘equality’, we compare.

Pastor then went on to use another illustration from the parable of the Prodigal son.

It is interesting how he explained that albeit the prodigal son had been a great disappointment to the father by treating the father so shamefully but eventually repented of his sins. Which resulted in a great party to celebrate his return. However, what is even more striking is the attitude of the eldest son.

The eldest who has been quietly slogging away at home had seemed to support the father. He would’ve also probably been thought of as a filial son who knows the father’s heart. It was this son whom the father had imagined to be the one who loves him, that turned out to be the other ‘prodigal’ son. Why? If he really had loved his father dearly, he would’ve known how much it meant to him that his brother had finally repented. He would’ve been happy to receive his brother back as well.

However, his attitude betrayed the years of working alongside with his father was merely for his own reward and self centredness.

Pastor used this illustration to bring across the point on how christians, especially those serving in church for ages, might be in danger of being the eldest brother if we are not careful to guard against the nature of ‘how much service I render to God’ = ‘how much He will reward me’ attitude.

Instead, we need to be able to work unto the Lord for the love and Joy set before us returning back to His grace and extending that grace to the lost around us.

There isn’t a need to compare with how more spiritual you are nor how less spiritual you are. He doesn’t call us to be Paul. He called us to be who He purposed us to be.

Therefore, as we serve God, be it the first lot of workers who started early in their teens or those who received Christ only in their dying years, we continue to draw hope, joy and grace in our journey with the Lord. He did not promise us a smooth journey of serving His people. He did promise the love which He already gave – through the death of Jesus and the hope of a risen Christ.

That’s how much He loves us.

Pastor ended with this song which melted my heart in praises unto our Living and Loving God!

1507754_10152693265372712_4572027024778482577_n

10544418_10152693265462712_7329004854336093194_n  10940988_10152693265522712_1783250499408044827_n

 白白的得来 无止尽赦免
我是天父永远最爱的宝贝

As I sang the above verses, it reminded me of how as parents we similarly express and hold our children as our precious babies. How much more so the Father’s love! : )

Let’s rest in His love and and love abiding in His Kingdom’s purposes (continue to serve in hope and joy).

 

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Have a blessed day!

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