Posted by on Sep 20, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Keep on Keeping On

Dear Lord….Thank you so much for your free gift of grace that you grant us. Thank you for the forgiveness of our shortcomings and mis-steps we often take. Thank you for guiding us in your world, upholding us and giving us challenges to work with your world to bring your Good News to others.

Our readings for this Sunday, come from both Matthew 20:1-6 as well as Philippians 1:21-30. The primary consideration will be with the words of Paul to the people of Philippi as they have been working to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people of their nation. His goal is to have people know what Christ has done for us all and to exhibit this by living in Christ.

Paul is encouraging the people to continue to work “in the flesh” which means to be in service to others. In verses 21 and 22, he states that to live in Christ and with Christ would be a wonderful gift. He also states that living and working with the people of Christ in the world is fruitful labor and he isn’t sure about which one to choose.

Paul chooses to stay in the flesh, working with the people of Philippi as they bring the message to others in their land. He decides that the best decision would be to keep working with the people, which puts the interest of the followers before his own interest.

Paul also mentions to the people that he will stand firm in the Spirit by working together for the spread of God’s message to all people. At this point, Paul states that he, along with the Philippians will put on the “mind of Christ”. By this he means that since Christ gave himself up for all people, he will give up his wishes to share the work with the people.

Also, with this mind, he will have help the people pattern a life of community living with the basis being that of unity. He encourages them (and us) to “live your life” publicly and visible.
Paul’s goal was to grow in Christ, which he also challenges the people he is writing to, to do the same…as we are to also do.

Paul does realize that will not be an easy task. We are reminded of this when we read the text from Matthew. In this text, Jesus is specifically giving all a “true to life” parable of people who work in the vineyard for the owner/manager.

The manager looked for laborers to work in the vineyard in the market place and hired some to begin work early in the morning, promising them a “days’ wages”. When the manager finds that more laborers are needed, he hires some to begin work in the afternoon, promising them to pay the “a days’ wages”. These laborers had not found work earlier in the day and were happy to have something to do and to be paid for.

Normally work hours for these laborers were 12 hours….no matter when they began working…whether it was early in the morning…or later in the afternoon. Therefore, the pay would be for working for the day.

This is where we see the “divide”. Those who began working in the morning were upset because the ones who began working in the afternoon were paid the same wages. No difference. Some of the “afternoon workers” may have been done with their task sooner than the 12 hours and were paid the same.

The manager asked (in verse 15), are you jealous because I’m generous? It is not for them to determine who gets paid what…as I promised all of you a normal day’s wage. I am giving to those who started work later the same as I give to you who began earlier in the day. The owner said he is able to do what he wants with what he has. The workers felt the were entitled to more. Does that sound familiar? This concept was stated on the parable as having an “evil eye”….or being envious of those the laborers thought were getting ‘more” than they got.

How does this fit in to the teaching of the disciples? Well…remember all of the hints that Jesus gave the disciples before…the steps to working through disagreements within the church. He told them the steps to take to work out disagreements with individuals and to forgive those who didn’t always agree with them…rather forgive and reconcile.

Now…this is another lesson from Jesus that the disciples are to stand firm and work together. Keep on keeping on with the mission we are given by God. We are not to be alarmed when people oppose us. We are to work for unity and have faith.

No matter when we ask God to be part of our life…whether it is as a teenager or later in life, God gives us all the same love and forgiveness. Life may not always treat us the same…but God loves us all the same. We do not earn God’s grace…it is a free gift to all. He doesn’t show favoritism and give one person more love and grace than another. It is all equal.

How do we respond to this free gift? We keep on keeping on with the work God asks us to do. We keep praying for our fellow men. We keep serving others. We witness to God’s love through our lives, words and actions. All of this is a response to God’s grace. How can we offer grace and generosity to others?

It’s been a different time for all of us…and maybe God’s grace and our example of this is needed by our friends and relatives more now than ever before. How can we keep on keeping on showing God’s love and grace to all, regardless of what we are experiencing? How can we help people grow in Christ?






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