For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them,‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD? (Psalm 14:4 ESV)
Alright guys, time to stop eating up people like we eat food and instead call upon the Lord. I know, I know. You don’t think you eat people, but you do. We all do every single time we use people to fill a need in us that is designed to be met in God alone.
We feel anxiety and panic after that meeting with our boss or conversation with a friend, and instead of calling upon the Lord, we turn to people. We eat up their words, eat up their affirmation seeking to satisfy our hunger for approval.
And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.” (1 Samuel 5:7 ESV)
The men of Ashdod saw how things were. They saw that their lame god kept getting knocked over by the real God. And so, seeing the weakness of their own god in the face of the God of Israel, they did the only logical thing: sent the presence of God away so that they could live in their delusion, feeling safe with a piece of rock.
There are sweet and confusing promises in the Word of God. One such example is this:
“For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11 ESV)
I had coffee with a friend a few weeks ago who is feeling a little failed by God. She’s been praying for God to do something (a super awesome glorifying thing) for awhile, and He hasn’t done it. She knows the right answers, but the question is quivering in her heart: why has Jesus refused this request?
I just wrapped up a class on singleness, and I could hear the whisper of a similar cry threaded through the comments we received: why has Jesus done this? Why has He given us desires He won’t satisfy? Why does it feel like He set us up to fail?