Ready for Thanksgiving? Let Jesus challenge us to think about life a little differently. Let’s not become the grumblers that thought they were due more than others because they worked harder.
A. Mark Twain said, “Don’t complain and talk about your problems – 80% of the people don’t care and the other 20% think you deserve them.” We all have problems and we all want a little sympathy when we tell others about our problems. So was Mark Twain right? Well, let me ask you use social media? How quickly do pass over the post of people who are sharing their complaints and grumbling about life? I will admit I do that sometimes.
B. Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Those complain first in our churches who have the least to do. The gift of grumbling is largely dispensed among those who have no other talent, or who keep what they have wrapped up in a napkin.”
C. Thanksgiving is coming up in just a few days. For many, that means extra food on the table, a day off of work, spending time with family and friends, watching more TV than normal and getting ready for Black Friday that really starts Thanksgiving Day. So what do you have to complain about? Life is far better than most of us deserve. Based upon my own merits, I know I don’t deserve the love I am given by my wife, kids, family and friends. I know I don’t’ deserve to have my sins forgiven by blood Jesus shed on the cross. I know I don’t deserve to spend eternity with God in heaven. But yet all these wonderful gifts are mine. Life is good.
D. Have you ever sat down at the table and prayed, thanking God for your food, only to spend the rest of the dinner complaining about life? I have. So this sermon is for me and if you want to stay awake, then maybe God will speak to you also.
I. The Backstory
A. The parable that Jesus gives is not simply a story. It is a teaching based upon a real life situation. To understand the parable you need to connect to the reason.
B. In Matt. 19 we get the backstory of this parable. A rich young Jewish synagogue ruler came to Jesus and asked him what he needed to do to have eternal life. It was a great question, but the bottom line answer was that his man needed to put God first and he couldn’t. Jesus pushed it by telling him to sell everything he had, give it to the poor and follow him. But he couldn’t do that. The reason why is the things he had was more valuable to him than the spiritual things he did not have. That’s a point to ponder.
C. After that, Jesus told his disciple how difficult it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Now listen to the response that Peter gives (Matt. 19:27). Jesus tells them that in that kingdom they will sit on thrones, but he finishes with these words: (Matt. 19:29-30). The point is that no matter how much you think you are giving up, what you get is far more than what you gave.
II. The Story
A. With that background listen to Matt. 20:1-7.
B. The kingdom of Heaven is simply any place where the king reigns. For us, that can be found in the church. Jesus is the head of the church and we are a part of his spiritual kingdom. This story is telling us how important is for everyone to be a part of God’s kingdom. It is not about those who are morally better than others. It is not about those who work harder than others. It is not about those who give their life to Christ earlier than others. This is about the kingdom, not the individual. Yet, that is very problem.
C. READ Matt. 20:8-10. In this portion of the parable we see how important it is for the master of the house to have workers come and work in his vineyard. The vineyard was so important to the master that wanted as many people to be working as possible. Never forget that the vineyard is the kingdom of God and how important that kingdom is. God wants you to gain the reward for being in the kingdom, not because of you and what you offer, but because of what God offers. But in the story, the workers didn’t get it.
C. Matt. 20:11-15. These people need a support group to help them deal with the disappointment they think they have in life. Not the reality of the blessing that they received, but the perceived desire to have more based upon their own self-importance. “I worked harder!” “I taught more classes!” “I washed up all the dishes after the fellowship meal!” “Where is my reward?”
D. A grumbler is never satisfied with what he has. If it’s money, he never has enough. If it’s his home, somebody else has a nicer one. If it’s bad grades in school, is the teacher’s fault. He is an expert in criticism and has a Ph.D. in nitpicking. Nothing is ever really enough. The grumbler seeks himself. In this parable, Jesus told us the grumbler’s real issue (Vs. 12). The truth is they believed they were OWED more because they did more, notwithstanding the fact that they agreed to that exact amount at the beginning.
E. Don’t root for the wrong side. Some people feel bad for those who worked so hard and got the same amount. But this story is how God deals with people in his kingdom. If you have an issue with the owner in this story, you have an issue with God. The problem with that is we either overestimate our own importance or we underestimate God’s “vineyard.”
A. Matt. 20:16. The meaning of this verse, and what was said to Peter right before this parable, is the language of service and humility. It is about gratitude for the blessings we are given not for looking for more. It seeks to change you from the inside out.
B. Thanksgiving is coming up in just a few days. I hope you have a great time with whomever you are with that day. If you are saved, sanctified and secure in Christ then you have much for which to be thankful. Keep your focus on your blessing and don’t worry about others. There may be things I don’t know about others, but this I do know, God has called me into his kingdom and blesses me beyond what I deserve. If you want to have that same joy and confidence, then take that step to come to Jesus and obey his voice as we sing.