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Let's Let God Be God, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
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August 31, 2021 7:05 am

Let's Let God Be God, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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August 31, 2021 7:05 am

The King's Ministry: A Study of Matthew 14–20

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When driving home a spiritual lesson, Jesus often created hypothetical situations or parables to help his listeners fully engage in the truth. He was a master storyteller. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll invites us to follow along as we recount a fascinating story Jesus told about workers in a vineyard.

These hired hands fell into a labor dispute arguing about the fairness of their hourly wages. We'll begin by reading the story together and once the stage is set, Chuck will present his message about the fairness of God entitled, Let's Let God Be God. We are journeying through the gospel by Matthew and we have come to chapter 20. Interestingly, since the chapter breaks are not inspired but have been helpful, having been added by those who edit our Bibles through the years, allowing us to have places where we can refer to, but sometimes these chapter breaks interrupt thoughts that are meant to run their course without an interruption.

And such is the case here. All of this goes back to when Jesus has his dialogue with the rich young ruler, remember, and the young man wanted to know what he could do, emphasis on doing, so that he could get what Jesus was offering, eternal life, and the Lord makes it clear that it's not something you do but it's what you believe. And ultimately it will work its way out in turning one's life over fully to the Lord himself, which means releasing your grip on everything, and of course this young man was not ready to do that and it said he went away sad. Standing in the wings were the disciples who had watched this dialogue going on and then that led to a conversation which Jesus entered into with them and then that led ultimately to this story, which is often called in the scriptures a parable, and we'll talk about that later, but we'll look at a parable that really flows out of that context that we've been looking at now for just a few days. Now turn to Matthew 20. I'll begin reading from the New Living Translation at verse 1.

I'll take us down through the 16th verse. For the kingdom of heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work. At nine o'clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing, so he hired them telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. So they went to work in the vineyard at noon and again at three o'clock he did the same thing.

At five o'clock that afternoon he was in town again, saw some more people standing around. He asked them, why haven't you been working today? They replied, because no one hired us. The landowner told them, then go out and join the others in my vineyard. That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o'clock were paid, each received a full day's wage. And when those hired first came to get their pay, and when those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they too were paid a day's wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner. Those people worked only one hour and yet you paid them just as much as you paid us, who worked all day in the scorching heat. He answered one of them, friend, I haven't been unfair, didn't you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you.

Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I'm kind to others? So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last. It's these kind of stories that keep preachers up late into the night. You try to figure out how this relates to us today and how this helps people understand life as it unfolds. And indeed, this is a great story we'll learn from. You're listening to Insight for Living.

To study the book of Matthew with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scripture studies by going to slash studies. And now the message from Chuck, he titled Let's Let God Be God. I have a very limited amount of time to change your mind, when in fact I really cannot change it. That's really the Lord's job, as he uses truth from his word to awaken you to changes that are needed.

But I will tell you before we go further that if you are willing to make the change, you will set yourself up for many more peaceful days and nights and many less restless days and nights. What I have in mind is dealing with our life circumstances that don't seem fair. Especially when we are around people who don't have the same situations that we're dealing with. When that happens, we tend to compare. I read years ago the little saying, comparisons are odious. And I don't know what the word odious meant since I never used the word, so I checked the dictionary.

It means to arouse hatred, disgust, and contempt. In other words, I spent a lot of my time comparing myself with others. It isn't long before I feel contempt toward others. And I began to build a growing resentment for and envy of others. Because my situation is painful, hard to deal with, whereas that other person doesn't have my situation.

Here are some examples. Someone is younger than you and yet more gifted and becomes better known than you. You could take it further if you wish. A friend shows up with a brand new car and here you are still driving at an 11-year-old station wagon. Not called an SUV, but back then it was called a station wagon.

Today it's called a dump, but that's what you're driving. At workplace, another is promoted even though you have seniority and you've been more diligent than the one promoted. Get the picture? Your health is failing while another who is older seems never to be sick. Your son has a disability whereas the family next door has a number of kids, not one of whom has a disability. The tornado wipes out your house, takes everything you own.

Next door, there isn't even a shingle missing from the roof or a window broken. Your husband is lazy, irresponsible and drinks too much. Your best friend is married to a man who is a model husband and father. You're doing the best you can to get through college before you retire, but sitting next to you is a 20-year-old whiz kid whose parents are paying his way through school.

He's already a senior and on his way to med school. I learned when I was graduating from seminary, our president told us, don't try to unscrew the inscrutable. Today it may sound like I'm going to try to do that, but I'm not going to do that.

It may sound like I'm going to try to do that, but I'm not. Because I don't know why. I just know only what. And a few things that might help you go beyond so that you don't get lost in the trap of comparison, because that's a dead-end street that'll build within you contempt and resentment and make you grow older a negative person. These examples could be multiplied by the dozens, but I wanted to take the time so you would enter into this because you know little about vineyards like I do and we know little about day laborers and the story is about both, when in fact it's really about more. It's about life. It's about the fairness and the goodness of God. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Keep all of this on the back burner. And when you do, remember the words of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, one ship drives east, another drives west, regardless of how the wind may blow. It's the set of the sail, not the gale, not the gale, that determines the way that we go. One ship sails east, the other west. Regardless of how the wind blows, it's the set of the sail, not the gale, that determines the way that we go. I've wrapped those words in theological garments and rewritten them. Your life moves eastward toward pain, another's life westward toward gain, regardless of how those differences are perceived.

It's your acceptance of God's compass, not your feelings about fairness, that determines the rewards you'll receive. All this brings us to a story Jesus told spontaneously. There's no script. It rolls out of the dialogue with the rich, young ruler, and then a conversation with Peter, who wants to know what they have to look forward to since they live broke.

And this guy's got everything you could ever want to buy. What's that about? And what do we have to look forward to? And Jesus, after a brief dialogue about that, tells this story. Now, it's a parable. It's a parable.

That's a word we don't use in English very much, unless we're in church or referring to a Bible verse where the word appears. Para means beside. If I place this magazine article beside this microphone, I put it in Greek. Para, the microphone, beside.

Balo, which is the end of the word, para-balo, means to cast, to lay something down. And it's for the purpose of comparison, to place something besides something else for the purpose of comparison. That's a parable. Got it?

Got it? Para-balo, to place something besides something else, to compare. You'll often find the word as or like in a parable. You'll find that in verse 1 of Matthew chapter 20. The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner.

There it is. So, familiar to the, by the way, when Jesus compared things, he always went from the known to the unknown. Always went from the familiar world that anybody could understand to the unfamiliar spiritual lesson that most people have not ever come to terms with. So the best way to understand a parable is to come up with the major message of the parable. Now you confuse a parable if you're looking for multiple messages or if you try to make it walk on all fours, where every part of it means something spiritual.

Don't go there. You mess up the story completely and you miss the main point. So let's be sure we get the main point. I'll come back to it later and spell it out, but let's let the story unfold as the Lord places this interesting story before his disciples, really before you and me, so that we get it for our lives.

So what do we have here? In every story there's a main character, and in this case the main character is the landowner. Verse 1, the landowner. He's not leasing the land, he owns the land. He owns the land. He owns the whole land, which has on it a vineyard. So he needs day laborers because it's harvest time. He needs to hire some workers who work the vines so that they can get them harvested without the crop ruining. So we go through five different groups of day laborers.

Look at them. Verse 1, he's out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.

So this is daybreak or maybe even before daybreak. It's a brand new day and a group of workers that he hires to pay them the normal daily wage. Denarius, D-E-N-A-R-I-U-S. Denarius is a coin that was paid for one day's work. That's the day's wage. So the workers were promised, you work for me today, I'll pay you the denarius. That's a day's wage.

Got it. Now 9 o'clock comes, your Bible reads a third hour because in the Jewish calendar or the Jewish time, time begins at 6 a.m. so we've got 9 o'clock in the morning, we got another group. He was passing through the marketplace, saw some people standing around doing nothing, so he hired them. That's group two. Telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. Okay, they agreed, we're going to do this. So they went to work in the vineyard at noon, group three. At three o'clock, group four. At five o'clock, group six, group five.

You with me? We got five groups of day laborers that are going to work the vineyard for this landowner. It comes time for payday, for the for the moment to pay. Verse 8, that evening he told the foreman to call the workers in.

It's a perfect example, by the way, of being careful about making every detail work. Some people try to make the foreman Christ. The landowner obviously is God who owns it all and I'm not sure the foreman plays that significant role. He's not mentioned again. If you leave him out, the story runs its course, so he's not that significant. He just happened to be the the paymaster. So you can make him Christ if you want to, just don't tell anybody, okay? So we got the foreman here and he's involved as the paymaster and he gives the money. Now watch closely. He pays the people whom he hired last first and he pays them a denarius.

You see that? Verse 9, when those hired at five o'clock were paid, each received full day's wage, okay? They worked an hour if evening is around six and they got a day's wage.

And that's fine. And the next group came in, they'd been hired first. So they were paid a denarius and that's when trouble started. Before I go any further, I'll give you the main message, major words, the major message of the parable, God's grace is just and generous. If I may turn it right away to a spiritual lesson, the fact that anybody got hired is grace. The fact that anybody made anything is grace. Regardless of the hours, regardless of how others were hired in or how long they worked, that God's grace is just and generous. So we come now to the group that's paid second, though they had been hired first. And what happens? Verse 10, when those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed that, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, mistake number one, they assumed they assumed.

Now why do I interrupt? Because that's what we do every day of our lives. We assume we will have all of our children their entire lives and we won't lose any of them. We assume the wife that the Lord gave us will have for the rest of our lives. We assume that our husband will be our husband forever and he will be the one we had dreamed of and longed for.

We assume the marriage is going to be as great as we thought when we came to the altar. We assume, we assume, we assume, we assume. I have a friend who is in business and he will never let anyone in his business use the word assume in conversation or in any correspondence. It's a pretty good rule. He happens to be in the travel business and in the travel business you could never assume anything.

And I can assure you in life, nor can you there. But they assumed. What did they assume?

Let's look. They assumed that they would receive more than the ones who had been hired at five. But they too were paid a day's wage. God's grace is fair and generous.

But when they received their pay, verse 11, they protested. Why? Comparison.

The five o'clock guys got a denarius and we get a denarius? That's not fair. By the way, there is no union.

Okay? That's why it's a good biblical story. There's no union.

There's no union. Nobody promised you more than a day's wage. God's grace covers your life.

The fact that you have breath in your lungs, the fact that you can come to know Christ by coming to the cross and trusting in the Savior and having eternal life, regardless of what life may throw at you, regardless of what God may permit, whether it's a life like Job's and Joseph's and Daniel or whoever. But they're busy comparing and when you compare and assume, you are forever miserable. You are forever trying to unscrew that inscrutable and you cannot do it. And you are setting your and you are setting yourself up for restless nights and complaining days. So they're complaining to the landowner. We assumed that we would make more because we've been working in this scorching heat all day long and they worked only an hour and you paid them the same thing you paid us. Look at the answer. I love the answer.

Verse 13. He answered one of the, he is the landowner. So the landowner says, interesting you bring that up. Friend, I haven't been unfair. Didn't you agree to work all day for the usual wage?

And isn't it a denarius? And don't you have that in your hand? Didn't I pay you that? Look at the next line.

Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Well, we're just getting started in this in-depth study of Matthew chapter 20. There's much more to uncover about this tenuous dispute between workers and the landowner. And we'll dig deeper tomorrow and once again on Thursday. This is Insight for Living featuring the Bible teaching of pastor and author Chuck Swindoll. Chuck titled today's message, Let's Let God Be God.

To discover the variety of resources we have available for today's topic, please visit us online at You might be surprised to learn that in addition to this daily program, Insight for Living produces a daily devotional that's sent by email. Chuck's down-to-earth writings cover a variety of everyday issues to help you live above the daily grind of life. In fact, just recently someone in California left a message that said, Pastor Chuck, I subscribe to a few daily devotional emails and find many encouraging, but yours, yours I dissect. I pass along to friends and I write parts of your message in cards I give for birthdays or other occasions. May God continue to use you to reach our world.

Beautiful note. And you're invited to receive the free devotional email from Chuck as well. Sign up today by going to slash devotional. And then you often hear me say that Insight for Living is made possible through the voluntary contributions of our monthly companions and all those who give one-time donations. Well, right now we're making a concerted effort to add more members to our team because nothing will magnify the mission of Insight for Living more effectively than counting on the steady support of our monthly companions.

Perhaps today's the day you'll become a monthly companion. In this role, God will use your gift to help us reach a hurting world with His compassion, truth, and grace. If you're listening in the United States, call us at 1-800-772-8888 or sign up online at slash monthly companion. You can also give a one-time donation today when you go online to Join us again when Chuck Swindoll continues his helpful message about the justice of God on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Let's Let God Be God, was copyrighted in 2017 and 2021, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-12 07:42:14 / 2023-09-12 07:50:50 / 9

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