I have an employee who drives me really crazy. He does nothing I ask him to do: is always late, leaves early, takes endless breaks, follows my directions only when it suits him. Most of the time he does just what he wants to do, and is completely ungovernable.
Why don’t I just fire this guy? Because, although he does nothing that I ask him to do, he does everything well. He does what needs to be done, and sometimes more than I would every expect of anyone. Though I tear my hair out about his blatant disrespect for my wishes, I have to admit he’s the best I’ve ever seen. He’s like the first son in the parable: he says No but does Yes.
Lots of people say No but do Yes in the reign of God. They don’t go to church, baptise their babies, or live by the Book in the way we would like. They don’t seem to worship the same God we do, or any God at all. Yet God has a very different abacus than ours, and the tally may come out better for them than for faithful churchgoers who live by the Book but have no love in their hearts. Is this fair? Not while we are pushing the beads, perhaps. But God doesn’t stoop so low as fairness, and all kinds of unlikely people are making their way toward the Kingdom.
Are you more like the first or second son in the parable? Can you forgive the other son?
Conquer judgmentalism! Whenever the little judge pops up in your mind and condemns a fellow traveller, retire it promptly. Watch out for the way the little judge accuses YOU. Show mercy to all, including yourself,
The Scripture (Matthew 21: 28-31 The Parable of the Two Sons)
‘Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, ‘Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard’. The son answered, ‘I don’t want to’. Later on he thought better of it and went. The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, ‘Sure, glad to go out’. But he never went. Which of the two sons did what the father asked? They said, ‘The first’.
A survey was distributed during a worship service one Sunday morning. Among the questions was, ‘Do you think there should be an evening Bible Study?’ The young pastor was overwhelmed at the response. Over fifty people indicated that there should be an evening Bible study. The elated pastor began making plans. A day or two later, a wise, experienced church leader came to visit the pastor. Gently he advised the young man that he had asked the wrong question. Instead of asking, ‘Do you think there should be a Bible Study?’ the pastor should have asked, ‘Are you willing to attend an evening Bible study?’ A second questionnaire was issued . This time the question was, ‘Are you willing to attend the Bible study?’ The result was quite different from the week before. This time only twelve people indicated that they would be willing to attend.
Grant to us, O God, the ability to see things from your perspective.
To see the riches in humour and endurance for those poor in this world’s goods;
to see the freedom of those persecuted for their beliefs
to see the spiritual health of those who are suffering and at risk;
to see the wealth of friendship among those who find it difficult to travel freely;
to see the vitality of those who are going through the valley of the shadow.
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