Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. Mark 12:1-3
Friends, it is super encouraging to see from this parable how God loves to provide for us, how He loves to set us up to win. Like the man in the parable, God furnishes for us everything that we need for fruitful living!
And we can infer from this parable that it isn’t a slapdash kind of a gift. You don’t just throw together a vineyard. It takes much thought about what would be the best location for the planting, and where everything would be placed.
God really is a creative God. You think you put a lot of thought into your work, your plans and designs? God puts a mind blowing blast of divine inspiration into his plans for us! He considers, and then fashions places for us to live and learn and thrive.
But even though we know this, we keep drifting back to thinking that what we have comes from us, from our plans, our education, our initiative, our efforts. We get enthralled with our workings. It feels like it’s all us.
Let’s remember that the Lord provides the basis behind all that we have.
Let’s remember that we are but stewards.
Let’s remember that the vineyard GOD has brought us to is exceedingly good!
. . . we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. Ps 66:12
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Ps 18:19
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Ps 16:6
And then let’s give back to God. If there’s one thing that’s clear about this parable, it’s that God expects us to honor Him as the source of all our blessings.
It has always been this way —
In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. Gen 4:3-4
Even from the very beginning, people were expected to honor God with their wealth.
And it mattered how they gave back. God did not approve of Cain’s offering.
Cain probably thought he was doing God a favor. After all, he was giving, and he was giving the thing that meant the most to him. He was sacrificing his own food that wouldn’t go into his belly. Wouldn’t God appreciate that?
We’re the same way. We think just ole way of any giving back is good. I mean, after all, we’re making the commendable effort to get off our selfish behinds and give. We feel great about that and pat ourselves on the back.
For instance, Ken and I went door knocking last Saturday to raise money for the HOPE Worldwide Superheroes 4 Orphans campaign.
We went out late in the afternoon, and I was tired and it had been a busy day. I went a bit grudgingly, with the sort of thought in the back of the mind that God should be grateful that I was doing for Him this thing I didn’t feel like doing.
But then I recalled that it matters how we give to God.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. II Cor 9:7
And do not grumble, as some of them did–and were killed by the destroying angel. I Cor 10:10
Rats. I forget how God hates grumbling, even if it’s just in our hearts.
So let’s acknowledge what a bounty we’ve been given, and joyfully give back. Let’s have a different heart, and humbly honor God as the source.
Even the gift of our salvation is a gift at His hands. We can’t fool ourselves that we had it together, and that’s how we got saved.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. I Cor 1:26
It’s ALL from God.
We can’t take it for granted.
I got a card in the mail yesterday from my son’s girlfriend, thanking us for taking them out to dinner last weekend.
That was impressive. Most people would have thought, “Of course the parents would want to see us and take us to dinner.” They wouldn’t have been so grateful.
Are we appreciative?
We’ve GOT to quit serving grudgingly!
May our hearts be soft with gratitude.
May our hands be eager to serve.
May we honor Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides.