My posts come from my personal daily scripture readings and a part of my personal accountability. If we are going to grow as followers of Christ, we must be in the Word! If you miss these a few days, something has kept me from it; but if they're gone for too many days, call me on the carpet. We need to hold one another accountable. I follow the readings and journaling from lifejournal.me. Join me on this journey as our lives are to Reflect the Image-and Jesus IS the image. Peace, Carla Sunberg
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Are we envious?
‘Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.
(Matthew 20:14 NASB)
‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’
(Matthew 20:15 NASB)
“So the last shall be first, and the first last.”
(Matthew 20:16 NASB)
So often the religious leaders were the ones who were gathered
around Jesus. Maybe they were genuinely curious, or possibly they were
simply trying to catch him in some kind of contradiction. They
certainly didn't have his best interest in mind, but instead were
seeking to make themselves feel better. Jesus begins to talk about the
ones who are laborers in the kingdom. At this point I'm sure they began
to nod in agreement for certainly they were the ones who had been
working from day one. They were the most qualified to be doing the
work. They were the most educated. They had the best resumes. They
had dressed for the part and they were enthusiastic about getting the
work done. But as Jesus continued in the conversation they became
disturbed. What was he saying? Was he saying that this rag-tag group
of people who followed him around from the Galilee might be considered
as great in the kingdom of God as they were? Surely not! How could God
not look on them and all that they had done and give them a greater
reward. No - the reward would be the same for everyone. Why? Because
God doesn't look at those exterior kinds of things, but because God is
generous. He loves everyone and doesn't want anyone to miss out on
heaven, so much so that the reward is the same for all who give their
lives to him, whether early on in their lives, or even near the end.
Those who think that they ought to be getting all the rewards need to
think twice. Those who are humble and grateful for what God has done
for them will be first, and the others will be last. Jesus could see
into their hearts. They were envious!
NT Wright wrote in "Simply Christian" that the church has tried to
take the Holy Spirit and direct its movement, almost as if we think
we've put in a plumbing system and have tried to plumb the presence of
God into particular places and institutions. Due to a lack of
maintenance the pipes have begun to burst and the Holy Spirit is popping
up in all kinds of places. He's popping up in a ministry to drug
addicts and alcoholics in Ukraine. He's popping up in a ministry to the
LGBT community in the heart of Kansas City. He's popping up in a GBV
center in Kenya. He's popping up in the Hope House of Stark County.
And the good religious folks are looking around them and they are
envious. Didn't we do church right? Haven't we been going to church
twice on Sundays all of our lives? Haven't we looked right? Haven't we
been going to Sunday School and been Bible Quizzers?
It seems that there are times that we become critical and complain
that God is pouring out his Spirit in places where sinners hang out.
How could he do that when we've been so good? Are we envious of what
God is doing in other places? Maybe we ought to take a little time and
examine ourselves. If we are waiting around to get "something" from
God, then we don't understand what he is doing. God is our Father, and
he is a dear and loving Father who is wanting all of us to be reunited
in a relationship with him. That means that he will do everything that
he can to draw his children back to him. Aren't we grateful that he is
that generous? So, why are we jealous? Because somehow we think that
it's what we "do" for him that it's important. That's not the point.
He rejoices that we are "in" him -- and when we are "in" him then we
will understand what it is that God desires. Remember Jesus kept saying
that God desires "mercy, not sacrifice." If we are "in" him then our
hearts will be filled with the same passions that fill him and we will
desperately want all of the lost to come to know him. We will want him
to be as generous as he wants to be -- we will want to see the Holy
Spirit being poured out in unusual places and we will go to those places
to participate with God in his activity in the world. We won't just
sit on our pews and wait for him to come to us. We won't be envious but
we will be generous and will rejoice every time a lost one comes to
What a blessing that the first will be last and the last will be
first! May all envy disappear as we grow in him and love for God and
neighbor displaces all things selfish.
Lord, my desire is to join with you today in your activity in this world. May I go with you. Amen.