Our Pastor has been preaching on humility the past few Sundays. So I have been asking the Lord to show me practical humility in His Word and Wow, has He ever! I never saw it so plainly before and now it seems I never read anything that I don't see it. I am starting to believe that humility is one of the key attributes of God right up there with "God is Love".
Today I read a parable from Matthew 20--the parable of the vineyard owner--and I have named it "the humility parable".
Here are a few things that stuck out to me:
1. The landowner went looking for workers I hear so many people say "they found Jesus". AAAAAnk! Wrong answer. He found me. I was the one that was lost, decieved, imprisoned, enslaved, destitute, and without hope! I was the one standing in the marketplace with a need, hoping that someone would come by and offer me a day's wages so that I could have what I needed. Saying that I found God implies that I did something and God was the result. Wrong again. God did it all because He knew how lost I was!!! There was nothing at anytime, any place or in any way that I could do to find God. I was forever cut off from Him without any hope of ever having anything with Him again! My sin did that!
2. We are all of the same value to God. God doesn't have favorites. Some of those the vinedresser hired worked for him a longer time than others. Some were easier to find than others. They were in the marketplace at the beginning of the day waiting to be hired. Others required more searching by the vinedresser and several trips to town before he employed them in his vineyard. Still, at the end of the day, they were all of the same value to Him, He did not distinquish between them. Truth of the matter is that we all receive the same reward. We get Christ! I wrote this in an earlier blog that after thinking about the "rewards" and "crowns" of heaven as belonging to me, I realized that even that was pride. Any reward we receive in heaven will automatically be recognized as belonging to Christ and cast at His feet. So again I say OUR REWARD IS THAT WE GET TO SEE HIM RECEIVE HIS REWARD!
3. God brings opportunities to me. I do not find them. So many times I've said, "oh how lucky I am!, or knock on wood" as if wood can bring us luck. I think my head must be made of wood sometimes--solid wood! No, it's how blessed I am. Anything good that has come my way has been the blessing of God, the care of my Good Shephard, the favor of my loving Heavenly Father, who is perfect in His love and dealings with me. I can no easier say that I found a good opportunity than I could say the pledge of allegiance backwards! Any opportunity that I have taken is because God brought it, and God blessed it. The origin of my opportunity and any credit for the results of my opportunity belong to Christ.
4. God always provides a full day's wage for all that are His. He never runs short! As mentioned before, God gave all the same wage, but the wage that He provided was for the whole day. God takes good care of me--one day at a time. The Bible tells us to not be anxious about tomorrow because if we could see the troubles that lie there, we would worry and try to provide for tomorrow today! The mercies of the Lord, one of which is daily grace, strength, and provision is not available today for tomorrow's needs.
My flesh does not like living that way! I need to know that food for tomorrow's meals are in the frige and money for tomorrow's bills is in the bank. But if it is already there, then I have the tendency to not rely on or acknowledge God in it. It's good to have to learn to live one day at a time. It reinforces our awareness of how needy we are and just how much we need God in every week, every day, every hour, every minute, every second! Whatever we have today is exactly enough. I have found that most times it's enough and a little more. Good news Moms!! God believes in leftovers!!! Just read the story of the bread and fish! There were 12 baskets leftover! That is evidence that God fully supports leftovers! I'll never feel guilty serving them again! They are God's idea and a reminder of the abundance with which God provides.
5. We work for God. He doesn't work for us. He's the Boss! Those standing in the marketplace didn't tell the vinedresser what they would and wouldn't do. No, they did what he said they would do. And it doesn't appear that they complained about the work, just the pay. I'm sure that he explained it all when he invited them to come and work for Him, so they didn't go into it blind.
I knew that gaining eternal life involved dying to self, becoming a slave, being an ambassador that carries the message of another. Yet, I still find myself from time to time wanting to do something else in the Lord's vineyard because what I am doing seems like it isn't accomplishing anything, or it's too uncomfortable, the hours are too long or stressful, or it's just plain boring or hard! I forget that whatever He has me doing is because it is the "perfect" thing for me right now and is probably part of the "perfecting" so that I can continue to move in the plan of God for my life.
6. God is gracious to all, extending His invitation to anyone who will listen and agree to His terms. So should I! I wonder how many "candidates" for the Lord's vineyard I have passed over because they didn't look a certain way, their timing seemed off, they seemed too hard a case, or they appeared uninterested. I shudder just thinking about it!
We enter the kingdom by privilege, not merit, and that privilege is extended to ALL! As workers in His vineyard, it is our responsiblity, command, and highest priviliege to take the Master's message to everyone possible. I noticed in scripture that Jesus always looked for those in need and went to them. So I have now been on the lookout for the neediest, most destitute, ugliest, people I can find to share with--first, the love of Christ, and secondly, the message of Christ.
7. Now here's the clincher!!!!! We should never be jealous or envious of others if their reward, position, blessing, or calling is greater than our own. The men in this story agreed in the morning to work for the vinedresser all day for a day's wage. Sounds like a good and fair deal! So when they worked all day for what they agreed upon and received what they agreed upon, they were ungrateful and disgruntled because some that didn't work as long as they did also got the same amount.
My kids are always saying "that's not fair!" And I tell them, "get over it, life's not fair!" But then I find myself doing the same thing with God. So I have determined to rejoice with those who rejoice, to esteem others more highly than myself, and to be happy when others are more blessed. If someone is recognized, or if they are promoted--even if I was next in line, I will rejoice WITH them when they receive something that I have wanted and even prayed for.
Of all the characteristics that I would use to describe God Almighty, humble was not one that was included in my vocabulary. But the verse in Psalms that says "God humbles Himself to observe what goes on here on earth", (paraphrase--sleeping husband--Bible in bedroom), tells me that even the very act of paying attention to us is an act of humility on God's part. His humility is so great that He not only observes, but cares enough that He sent His own perfect Son to die in our place for our sins. No wonder the angelic creatures in heaven marvel and wonder at the plan of salvation. They are in God's presence and see Him as He really is, not through a mirror darkly. How mysterious and perplexing it must be to them that God humbles Himself for a creation that has rebelled against Him with raised fist hate, ignored His very presence and existence and spurned His perfect love!
Andrew Murray said that "the highest place that we can ever obtain is the lowliness of Christ". To some that may be shooting low, but for me it's a perfect bullseye!