Loved Sinners (Romans 5:1-11)

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How do you show someone that you love them?

There are probably more ways to show people that we love them than I can count. Some of these ways might be romantic gestures such as giving flowers, a card, chocolates or jewellery. We can show love to the people around us in very ordinary ways such as taking out the rubbish, doing the dishes after a meal, or cleaning the toilet. We can also show love in a deep commitment to other people, sticking with them in difficult times and supporting them when they really need it.

However you might show love to others, can you imagine showing that same kind of love to someone who doesn’t deserve it or who has hurt you in some way? It can be hard enough loving people you get along with, but have you ever tried loving someone who has wronged you, or has wounded you, or doesn’t deserve your love for any reason.

If we can imagine how difficult it would be to love someone who has wronged or hurt us, then we begin to get a glimpse of what Paul was thinking when he wrote Romans 5:6-8. It can be easy for us to talk about how God loves all people. However, Paul doesn’t just settle for a nice platitude when he talks to the early Christians in Rome about the love of God that he encountered in Jesus. Paul’s message was that God doesn’t love people because we do good, or we are nice, or even if we are in church on Sunday. Paul sees the love of God as so great because God loves people who are hard to love, who don’t deserve to be loved, but who need his love.

God showed how massive his love is in the death of Jesus for all of us who have wronged God.

No matter how nice or good we think we might be, we all do wrong. Jesus left us with just one command: to love (see Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28; John 13:34). We have all failed to love God and love other people in the way God wants us to. Our natural tendency is to think more about ourselves than God or others. We prioritise ourselves and our wants more than the needs of the people around us. We all have the desire to be at the centre of our own little universe, expecting others and even God to revolve around us. Humanism likes to tell us how good we are, but in the end we all carry flaws, failures and the brokenness that comes with being human.

I don’t say this to make people feel bad about ourselves. Instead, in order to comprehend the magnitude of God’s love for us in Jesus, we need to recognize and acknowledge our limitations and our inability to love in the way Jesus taught us. Loving someone who is easy to love is no big deal. However, loving someone who is difficult to love, who doesn’t deserve it, or who has done wrong, is something very special.

I don’t believe that Paul wrote Romans 5:6-8 to make his readers feel bad about themselves either. Paul knew what it was like to do wrong. What changed his life, however, was the love of a gracious God who knew Paul’s wrongs but still loved him. Paul found that love in the cross of Jesus. His words in Romans 5 are focused on pointing people to that same love so we can know and trust in Jesus’ life-changing love. I understand that we can see evidence of God’s love in nature, in the trees and sunshine and rainbows, and in the nice or beautiful things of this world. Nature has a dark side, however, so we need to also recognise that it is hard to see God’s love in storms, earthquakes, pandemics and other natural disasters. Paul points us to the way that God showed us his love by giving the most precious thing he had for us – the life of his own Son.

We can also see God’s love most clearly in the person of Jesus. He doesn’t just give us flowers or chocolate or jewellery to show us he loves us. Jesus doesn’t just take out our rubbish, wash our dishes or clean our toilets, although he does wash feet (see John 13:1-5). The way Jesus shows his love for us is by giving us his all. In dying for us in the cross Jesus gave everything he has for us and to us. Jesus held nothing back when he went to the cross and sacrificed everything out of love for us so that we can know what it is like to receive infinite and perfect love. Jesus knows all our flaws and failures, all our weaknesses and brokenness, and he still gives his all for us and to us because that’s how epic and crazy his love is for us.

Knowing and trusting in the love of Jesus can make a big difference in our lives. I learned that in my teenage years when discovering the love of Jesus gave me a new sense of who I am and what I’m worth. Decades later, I’m still working out how this love is shaping me and my relationships. That’s what it means to be a disciple or follower of Jesus – to be continually learning how Gods’ love for us in Jesus can shape our identity and our relationships, our belonging and our purpose. I’ve also seen how the love of God in Jesus can make a huge difference in other people’s lives. When the Holy Spirit pours the miracle of God’s love into us, it can give us a whole new perspective on who we are, where we fit and what we’re here for. For example, as Paul writes in Romans 5:3-5, knowing and trusting this love can produce endurance in us when we are suffering, character from endurance, and hope from this character which does not disappoint us. All this is from God’s love for us in Jesus which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts through the good news of Jesus.

How do you show someone that you love them? Would you be able to do that for someone who has wronged you? If your answer is no, don’t feel bad – that’s our shared human condition. But it also shows us something about God’s love. God loves us in a way that we can’t. But when we know and trust his love for us in Jesus, the love that gives everything to the people who deserve it the least but need it the most, then we can live in the reality of a love that can change our lives. Then, by God’s grace, this same love which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts can and will overflow from us into the lives of the people around us (see John 4:13-14).

Worship Fully (Isaiah 2:1-5)

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A few months ago I was discussing with the small group leaders of our congregation what we might be able to look at as we entered the Advent season leading up to Christmas. One of the suggestions was the Advent Conspiracy. This resource uses the four weeks of Advent to prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth by challenging participants to Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All. After looking at the Advent Conspiracy material, we decided to give it a go this year and begin to re-imagine how we might celebrate Christmas differently by putting Jesus’ birth at the centre of everything we did.

Last Sunday we began Advent by looking at what it means to Worship Fully. I find that any discussion about worship is challenging because it seems like everyone has an opinion on how, when and where Christians should or should not worship. We all have personal preferences about just about every aspect of worship such as the styles of music we sing, whether we have a formal, responsive liturgy or not, and a whole lot of other things. Personally speaking, I get concerned whenever people start voicing their opinions about worship because most of the time it is very easy to miss the point of what worship is supposed to be all about.

The word worship comes from an Old English word which can mean to give someone or something worth or value. The things we value most in life, then, can become the objects of our worship. That might be God or some other deity, but it might also be our material possessions, our relationships, our work or even our favourite sporting team. Usually, we value these things because we look for our own sense of self-worth or value in them. For example, we might value our possessions because owning them might give us a sense of self-worth. We might value our relationships because they make us feel valued and significant. A lot of people value their work because it helps them feel useful and worthwhile. Belonging to a sporting club or supporting a team can help us feel like we belong and give us a purpose to our lives.

The problem comes when the things that we value and in which we look for value come to an end, are taken from us, or fail to give us what we hope for. When we look for our self-worth in the things we own, we can spend our lives trying to get more and more as newer and better versions of these possessions are produced. When we look for our value in our relationships, we can end up feeling worthless if those relationships end or become increasingly dysfunctional. I know a lot of people who struggle with their own self-worth when they lose their jobs, retire from full-time employment, or are too old to do the things they used to do. If we’re looking for our value in our sporting teams, what happens when they lose or don’t achieve what we hope they will?

To Worship Fully at Christmas is much more than singing Christmas carols or going to church. It challenges us to ask what we value most about Christmas and where we look for our self-worth at this time of year. For some, we might find our value in the giving or receiving of presents. It might be in the family dinner and the gathering of relatives. For others, it might be in the activity that goes on around a lot of churches during the festive season. There are lots of ways we can look for self-worth at Christmas in the things that we value most of all. As I said, the problem is whether or not they are able to give us a sense of self-worth if we lose them or they are taken away from us.

When we look for our value in Jesus, we can find a sense of self-worth which can’t be taken from us and which we will never lose. One way we can understand the meaning of Christmas is that God gave us the most precious gift he had, his only Son, because he thinks we’re worth it! God values each and every person so much that he enters into the reality of human existence by being born to a teenaged girl in Bethlehem. God’s plan is to rescue us from our superficial and flawed attempts at finding our self-worth in the things we own, the things we do, or the people we are trying to be by giving us a value that can’t be calculated. God values us so much that he enters our lives and unites himself with us in Jesus. He takes our sin and brokenness to the cross because he values us more than we will ever understand in this world. Jesus defeats death, overcomes the grave and rises from the dead to show us how precious we are to him. The entire plan of salvation, from Jesus’ birth to his death, resurrection and ascension all point us to the value God places on each and every person. God does everything that is necessary to give our lives value and meaning by accepting us as we are, adopting us as his children and welcoming us into a new relationship with him.

Basically, Jesus enters the world as an infant at Christmas to save us because he reckons we are worth saving!

When we find our value in Jesus and his birth, life, death and resurrection for us, it is natural for us to worship him – to give him worth for everything he has done, is doing and will continue to do for us. This is what it means to Worship Fully, especially at Christmas. We can find a deep and lasting sense of our self-worth, not in the decorations or presents or meals or any of the other superficial trappings of this time of year, but in God’s gift of himself to us in the baby Jesus. When we trust that God gives us a sense of self-worth in Jesus, then we can worship him fully by making the birth of Jesus the one thing we value most about the Christmas season.

What do you value most about the Christmas season? What might that say about where you look for your sense of value and self-worth? How might you celebrate Christmas differently with your family, friends or church community if you intentionally looked for your value in the birth of Jesus and then valued him most of all? The other things aren’t wrong or bad, but how might they look different if we valued Jesus most of all as we find our value in him?

When we find our self-worth in God’s gift of himself to us in Jesus, then we can worship him fully with our whole lives, not just at Christmas.

The Greatest Gift (Luke 2:9-12)

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On Christmas Eve at our church, our young people presented a play which looked at the birth of Jesus as being the greatest gift ever given to the world.

When we compare the gift of a child to all the other things on our Christmas wish lists, a baby might not look very impressive or important. When each of our three children were born, I remember looking at these little, helpless people and being amazed at what an incredible gift life is. We can’t buy it or earn it in any way. Life can only be given, and that’s what makes it a gift.

Whether we identify as followers of Jesus or not, it is good that we remember that. It is too easy to take our life and the lives of the people around us for granted. But life is so fragile and precious. Christmas is a good time to remember that and appreciate the lives of the people around us. They might frustrate or annoy us, but the people in our lives are a gift to us from a God who loves us and wants good for us. So give thanks for the fragile, precious gift of the people in your life, because they are God’s gift to us.

What is unique about the life of this baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas is that he is the gift of God’s life to us. The Apostle Paul tells us that the fullness of God lives in this little body (Colossians 1:19). Through this child, God overcomes everything that divides a flawed, broken, messed-up humanity from himself and he unites himself with us. God and people are joined together as one in the infant of Jesus. He does that to take everything that is wrong about us and carry it to the cross to put it to death. At the same time, he fills us with everything he is: goodness, purity, righteousness, wholeness, and so much more. He gifts us with his life, from which all life grows. Jesus describes the life he comes to give as ‘life to the full’ (John 10:10). This is life as it was meant to be from the beginning – life lived in perfect relationship with God, with each other, and with creation. His is a life that is stronger than death, and a life that will never end.

We look for life in all sorts of ways and places. Some of them help us discover what life is about. Other places where we look for life actually take life from us. In the end, like all the other gifts we will receive this Christmas, they have a use-by date. They will leave us wanting and looking for more, or better, or newer gifts. The gift of life that God gives to us through the infant Jesus, however, has no use-by date. It is everything we could ever hope for, and so much more.

At Christmas, we don’t just celebrate the birth of a baby a long time ago in a land far, far away. We celebrate the greatest gift God has ever given to us – life in his Son which begins now and will last forever.

Christ Alone (Romans 3:19-28)

All-focusOver the last 5 weeks we have been looking at some of the key teachings of the Reformation to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. So far we’ve looked at the church continually being re-formed, becoming like the picture of the church God gives us in Scripture Alone, as we live by God’s Grace Alone which we receive through Faith Alone.

What ties all this together and lives at the heart of all we have been looking at this month is the person of Jesus. He is central to the story of the Bible as the Old Testament points forward to his coming, and the New Testament proclaims his coming and this difference this good news makes. It is only because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection that God shows us grace by giving us all we need for this life and the next. As we read in Romans, it is through faith in Jesus that God’s gifts of forgiveness, freedom and new life become ours and we receive the benefits of what Jesus has done for us through the Holy Spirit. It is through faith in Christ Alone, the last of the principles we are looking at, that God gives us his grace.

I don’t think anyone who identifies as Christian would disagree with keeping our focus on Christ Alone. However, there is a big difference between seeing Jesus as an example for us to follow, or as a gift that is given to us.

When Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, he said that he was setting an example for us (John 13:15). It is important that, as Jesus’ followers, we are following the example he set for us. However, if that is all Jesus is, then he is no different from any other moral teacher who sets us a good example to live by, but who can’t help us when we fail. We might believe that Jesus died and is risen again for us, and that he will come again at the end of time, but if he is only an example for us, then right here and now he isn’t able to help us.

It’s like going for a swim at the beach, getting caught in a rip, and being dragged away from shore. If we are caught in a situation like that, with the waves crashing on top of us and the rip pulling us farther from the beach, do we need someone to tell us what we need to do to save ourselves? Or do we need someone who is going to plunge into the water, meet us where we are, and carry us back to shore? Do we need someone to tell us what to do, or someone to save us?

That is why the Bible points to Jesus as God’s gift to us, not just as an example. God plunges into the realities of human existence as Jesus is called ‘Immanuel’ – ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). Jesus makes his home with us through the word of God and his promises in it (John 1:14). Jesus unites himself with us through baptism so that he lives in us, we live in him, and we are one with him in his death and resurrection (Romans 6:3,4). When Jesus said, ‘This is my body’ and ‘This is my blood’ (Matt 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19,20; 1 Cor 11:23-25) he was promising to be with us in every situation of life, in the middle of the waves and rips, giving himself to us in love, and giving us the fullness of God’s goodness (Colossians 1:19). This view of Jesus as gift makes Paul’s talk about the church being the ‘body of Christ’ (1 Cor 12:12-31) much more than just a nice metaphor. Instead, the faith that Jesus is gift means that we are the living, breathing presence of Jesus in the world as we re-present him to those around us, and as others experience God’s grace in and through us.

When we trust in Christ Alone as gift to us and not just as an example, we find everything we need to live in freedom, peace, hope and love as God’s people. Through faith in Jesus as God’s grace-filled gift to us, we find a God who is with us in every situation and who gives us what we need most in those circumstances. When we are trapped in guilt, the presence of the crucified Jesus gives us the freedom of forgiveness and new beginnings. When we are lost in darkness, the gift of the presence of Jesus who overcame death gives us the light of hope. When we feel abandoned or rejected, the gift of the presence of Jesus who suffered abandonment and rejection means we are never alone. When we trust in Jesus as gift we can find our identity, belonging and purpose in relationship with him. He gives us an identity as children of God (Galatians 3:26), he gives us belonging as members of his body (1 Cor 12:27), and he gives us purpose as he ends us into the world to be the salt and light of God’s goodness in all we say and do (Matt 5:13-16).

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In a lot of ways this was the focus of Luther’s Reformation 500 years ago, and still needs to be our focus today. When you go into the city church in Wittenberg, the church where Luther did most of his preaching, there is a piece of art showing Luther in the pulpit on one side, pointing people on the other side of the painting to Jesus in the centre. This is what we, as God’s people in the world and as church, are called to do: to point each other to Christ Alone as God’s gift for each of us. Through faith in him, we can find grace, love, freedom, peace and hope and everything we need for this life and the next. Five hundred years from Luther’s Reformation, as we enter what is being referred to as a post-Christian culture, we still need to be pointed back to Jesus so we can give a faith-filled witness to the world.

Because for people in our time and place, the message of Jesus as gift for us is still good news.

More to think about:

  • Do you tend to think more of Jesus as an example or a gift? Why do you think of him that way?
  • If you were caught in a rip at the beach which was pulling you out to sea, would you want a surf lifesaver to give you instructions from the beach, or to jump in to the water to rescue you? How is Jesus like a lifesaver who swims out to rescue you?
  • How does that make Jesus different from every other moral or religious teacher?
  • A Lutheran perspective of Christianity stresses that in Jesus God is with us in all our circumstances through his Word, as well as the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. Instead of just being doctrines to be debated, how can this teaching give us comfort, peace, hope and joy?
  • In your experience of church, do we focus on Christ Alone or do we get distracted by other things? How might church be different if we just focused on the good news of Christ Alone?

Grace Alone (Romans 5:15-19)

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This month, to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, we are looking at some of the key teachings of the Reformation. This week we are exploring the principle of Grace Alone.

Grace can be one of those words that Christians use a lot without really being sure about what it actually means. It has a rich depth of meaning and nuances which can it difficult to define. However, in Romans 5:15-17, for example, Paul uses the Greek word for ‘grace’ (charis) with two words for ‘gift’ (charisma and dorea). This leads me to think of grace as a gift which God freely gives to us.

We can understand God’s grace in both narrower and broader ways. As I grew up in the church I understood God’s grace pretty much as the forgiveness of sins so we can go to heaven when we die. Romans 5:15-19 broadens this understanding of grace to include righteousness (God making everything that is wrong in us right again) and living in triumph over sin and death (v17 NLT). Paul goes on to write that God’s grace also gives us a new and right relationship with God which we can live in new ways (v18). So God’s grace gives us more than a place in heaven when we die. God’s grace gives us a new life to live now in right relationships and in freedom.

Paul goes on in Romans 8:32 to explain that God’s grace is even broader when he writes, ‘Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?’ (NLT). The word he uses for ‘give’ here is again from the Greek word charis. By using this word Paul points us to see that every good thing we have is a gift of grace from God. Luther picked this up in his explanation to the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed in his Small Catechism when he wrote that God gives us everything we need for life in this world ‘only because he is my good and merciful Father in heaven, and not because I have earned or deserve it.’

More than being a doctrine to be debated, this understanding of grace is something we can live every day. It can be so easy for us to become discontent with what we have, and to want more, or newer, or better things or relationships. However, imagine what life could be like if we saw every good thing we have as a grace-filled gift from a God who loves us. This becomes the hope and goal of the teaching of Grace Alone. It is about finding contentment and joy every day of our lives, giving thanks to God for all the good things he gives us as he provides us with everything we need for life in this world and in the next.

However, every gift comes at a price. I can’t just go into a shop and expect them to give me something for free because I want to give it away as a gift. I still need to pay for the gift if I am going to give it as an act of grace to another person. This is why the cross of Jesus is crucial to our understanding of God’s grace. For God to give us all these gifts, someone had to pay for them. That is one way we can think of what Jesus did for us on the cross. When we looked at Scripture Alone, we saw that the central story of the Bible is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Because of Jesus’ perfect life, his innocent death, and his victory over death in his resurrection, God shows us grace by giving us forgiveness, a new relationship with him, a place in his family, and every good thing we need. Jesus paid for it all by dying on the cross, so we can receive God’s goodness as a totally free gift.

For people who believe in God’s grace to us in Jesus, then, we are called to extend God’s grace to others by living in grace-filled ways with the people around us. If we understand grace as God giving to us, then living as grace-filled people means that what we give to others is more important that what we get from them. This is significant for us as a church which is called to be continually re-forming because I often hear ‘getting’ language in the church – either what we want to ‘get’ from people or what we want to ‘get’ people to do for us. The language of ‘getting’ is not the language of grace. As people who see Grace Alone as one of our foundational teachings, it is vital that we embody the grace of God in our relationships and in our community of faith by looking to how we can be agents of God’s grace to the people around us, both inside and outside of our church. That means using language of giving rather than getting, looking more to what we can give that what we can get. To be a grace-giving church means passing God’s grace on to others, no matter what the cost, especially those whom we think deserve it the least and need it the most, like the people Jesus ate with in Matthew 9:9-13.

Over the years, I have learned that the Reformation teaching of Grace Alone means much more than we are forgiven so we get to go to heaven when we die. It is a whole new way of viewing ourselves, our relationships, our possessions, our church, and the people around us. Grace Alone means that every good thing we have is a free gift from a God who loves us and has given his only Son to die for us. As people who receive this grace from God, the Holy Spirit wants to continually be re-forming us so that we can participate with God in his mission to extend his grace to everyone.

More to think about:

  • If someone asked you what ‘grace’ means, how would you explain it to that person? How do you understand ‘grace’?
  • What do you think of understanding grace as giving? How does that compare with your understanding of grace? Does it help you understand grace better or make it more difficult?
  • Do you think it would be easy or difficult for you to think of everything you have as a gift from a grace-filled and loving God? How might thinking that way change the way you see the things & relationships you have? How might it change the way you see God?
  • Every gift still comes at a price. What is your reaction to the idea that God willingly gave the most precious thing he had, his only Son, in order to show you grace? What are your thoughts about Jesus’ willingness to give his life on the cross for you so you can experience grace from God?
  • Who is someone you know who needs grace from you? What can you do for that person to extend God’s grace to her/him?

Generous Grace (Matthew 20:1-16)

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The other day I was reading a book to our children. In the story, a grandpa and grandma were driving with their grandchildren in their car when they saw a stall on the side of the road selling ice-creams and balloons. The grandpa suggested to his grandchildren that they stop and buy an ice-cream because, he said, they deserved it.

At that point, the first time I read it, I actually paused for about a complete minute. I couldn’t help wondering, why did they deserved the ice-cream?

I know it’s only a children’s book, but it struck me that from a young age our culture is teaching us that we deserve good things, but for no particular reason. It is a message that we hear throughout the media and is a very effective marketing tool. If we are told that we deserve something good, which could include anything from a chocolate bar to an overseas holiday or new car, then we are more inclined to buy the product.

This way of thinking is a double-edged sword. If we convince ourselves that we deserve good things, then we also have to acknowledge that when we do wrong, or fail to do good, then we deserve bad things as well. We tend to focus on the good we think we deserve and ignore the bad, but the reality is that if we want to live according to what we deserve, then we need to accept the bad as well as the good. Just about every worldview, religion, philosophy or way of thinking that I have come across in my life is based on this idea that we should get what we deserve. In the end we are trapped between the good we like to think we deserve and the bad we deserve because of the wrong we do.

Jesus’ parable at the start of Matthew 20 offers us a different way to live. The person who was hired to work at the start of the day was upset because he felt like he deserved more than the workers who only worked for an hour. From a human perspective he has a valid point. If life is based on getting what you deserve, then the person who put in more hours of work deserves to get more than the person who worked less.

The scandal and the beauty of this parable, however, is that God’s Kingdom does not work from a human perspective. At the beginning of the story, the owner of the vineyard promises to pay the workers a ‘normal daily wage’ (v2 NLT). He then promises the other workers he hires during the day that he would ‘pay them whatever was right’ (v4 NLT). At the end of the day, he honoured his pledge by paying them what he promised, not what they deserved.

The key to the story is in verse 14 where the vineyard owner says, ‘I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you’ (NIV). I have used the NIV here because it is closer to the Greek text which uses the word ‘give’ rather than ‘pay’ (NLT). What the vineyard owner gives to the workers at the end of the day is not based on what the deserve, but on what the vineyard owner wants to give.

This is where we see the generosity of the God we meet in Jesus. God gives us what he wants to give us, not what we deserve. This is a God who takes pleasure in giving because it is God’s nature to give. We see this most clearly in the person of Jesus. As the Apostle John tells us, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son’ (John 3:16 NIV). Jesus himself is the clearest and fullest expression of God’s giving nature as God gives him to and for the world. We see God’s giving nature as Jesus gives his life for us on the cross, and then gives his resurrected life to us through the work of the Holy Spirit. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, God also gives us forgiveness, love, mercy, joy, hope, and so much more. God gives us an identity as his children whom he loves and with whom he is pleased for the sake of Jesus (Matthew 3:17). God gives us a place to belong as we are made members of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) and the family of believers (Galatians 3:26,27). God gives us a purpose as he calls us to be part of God’s mission to bring the good news of the Kingdom to the world (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:46,47). God promises to give us every good thing we need for life in this world and the next, not because we deserve it, but because he is by nature a giving God.

This faith changes our perspective on everything. I was talking with someone last week who told me that she enjoys having a beer at the end of the day’s work because she feels like she deserves it. I offered a different way of thinking: that when we get to the end of the day we can give thanks to God for whatever beverage we might enjoy because it is his gift to us. It will be the same beverage, but one way of thinking gives me the credit, the other gives the glory to God.

So basically there are two ways we can live. If we live according to what we deserve, or what we think we deserve, we will have to acknowledge at some point that we also need to accept what we deserve for the wrong we do. However, this parable of Jesus offers us an alternative way to live. This is the way of grace, where God doesn’t treat us as we deserve. Instead he gives good things to us just because it is in his nature to give. The first is the way of works, the second is the way of faith.

From a human perspective it’s not fair, but that is what makes it so good…

More to think about:

  • Do you like the idea of getting what you deserve in life? Why / why not?
  • Do you agree that if we think we deserve good, then we also need to accept that we deserve bad for the wrong we do? Explain why you think that.
  • If you were one of the workers who was employed at the start of the day, how would you feel when you saw those who had worked only an hour being paid the same amount as you? How would you have felt if you were one of the workers hired at the end of the day?
  • What do you think of the idea that God doesn’t give you what you deserve, but what he promises? Explain what you like or don’t like about it.
  • At the end of the day, how would you prefer to live – according to what you deserve? or by what God promises to give you?