Yesterday I signed an agreement, a contract. My name, a scribble a line on a piece of paper, indicates a promise, representing my intentions. Barring catastrophe, I will keep my word! Doing what I say, when I say I will do it, to the best of my ability is a strong value for me. Doing an on-time job, with excellence, is admirable in my eyes!
God seeks faithfulness in us. He is not much impressed with pious words that are not backed up by real obedience. Jesus told a story about two sons to help us to understand this. “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. Which of the two was obeying his father?” They replied, “The first, of course.” Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I assure you, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.” (Matthew 21:28-31, NLT)
It’s a strange sort of story, isn’t it? One son appears the rebel, but he repents and reveals a heart tender towards his father. The other looks like the good son but his heart is corrupt, full of self-will!
Friend, do your Monday actions match your Sunday songs?
Do you sometimes wrestle with the Lord’s will but yield to Him to do what He asks?
The richest experience of the Spirit is found when surrender Self, prioritizing the call of God to do what He asks – when it is convenient and when it is costly, when we feel like and when we don’t, when it is exciting and when it is ‘just the right thing to do.’ Don’t be surprised by the fact that sometimes prayer, scripture intake, and service are not all that thrilling. Real life has many days when we do what needs to be done regardless of how we feel in the moment.
Chasing novel spiritual experiences will make us basically worthless to the Kingdom of God! Jesus’ words at the end of that story are shocking. He says that the most flagrant sinners whose hearts turn to God in true repentance discover the rewards of the Kingdom!
I want to be clear about something. Faithfulness in service is not the same as trying to earn our salvation by good works! We are saved by the grace of God, shown in Christ Jesus. But, our grace awakening will have observable consequence in life that goes beyond saying “I’m saved.” We are restored to our Father, learn to delight in what He desires, and surrender our hands and heart to His service.
Here is a word from the Word. “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’ “ (Matthew 7:21-23, The Message)
Abba, help me to align my rhetoric with my actions.
Reveal hypocrisy to me, places where I say things I do not do,
Situations where I make promises I do not keep.
Give me a long view of life that reaches to eternity,
A willingness to wait for the rewards of faithfulness promised.
May I find real joy in knowing that I am living in obedience,
Quietly persisting in service, without seeking applause.
I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen