Thursday, December 13, 2007

Examine Your Motives

Matthew 20:1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.

Jesus has just had a conversation with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22) and then told His disciples that it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven that it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Peter then asks Jesus since he and the other disciples have given up everything to follow Him "what will there be for us?"

Jesus says that they will be rewarded for their labor, and tells them that many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Then He tells them a parable; He says the kingdom of heaven is like a land owner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. Many have misrepresented this parable by saying that the wages paid to the workers represent eternal life, or that the wages represent rewards for service, but neither of these are what Jesus was trying to teach His disciples (or us).

First, He can't be talking about the wages being salvation because that would mean that they were earning their salvation, and the Bible clearly teaches that salvation is by grace and that we cannot work for it (Ephesians 2:8-9). Second, He couldn't have meant rewards either, because they all received the same amount, and the Bible teaches that God will reward us individually for what we have done (1 Corinthians 3:8). So what was the point of this parable?

I think that Jesus was trying to make us see that we need to watch our motives. Remember, Peter was asking what he was going to get in return for all he had given up, and Jesus was letting him know that he would be rewarded for his work, but just because he was one of the first to follow Jesus didn't mean that He would be first in the kingdom of heaven. The person who will be first is the one who serves Christ for the sake of serving Christ, not for what he will get in return.

Warren Wiersbe writes, "It is a solemn thing to realize that Christians whom we may admire today will be “last” at the final reckoning at the Judgment Seat of Christ because their motives were wrong."

So today remember that our motives are important and that our service to Jesus should be motivated by our love for Him and not what we will get for it.
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2 comments:

Preston N said...

Chris

Hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year! According to your theology (Soft Calvinism) how can a person truly examine the motive of their hearts - this would require two elements that your theology does not adhere to? Freewill and Moral Ability. In two of your posts within one week (The Puritan post and this one) you show me that your not living consistent with your theology. On both instances you claim that what is required of God is the motive of ones heart - I completely agree with this principle. However, according to Calvinism man is unable to have any true "motive" of heart other than being Totally Depraved and wicked (even once your saved as this is covered under Calvins concept of Justification)! But yet your assuming in both of these posts that man does have an "ability" to have a sincere Godly motive of heart, in other words they have a choice or freedom (freewill) in how to motivate themselves!

You state in this post:

"So today remember that our motives are important and that our service to Jesus should be MOTIVATED BY OUR LOVE FOR HIM and not what we will get for it."

This statement alone is assuming man has the ability to choose his or her motives freely! But yet a man's motive is neither his own (predetermined) or a freewill decision as Calvinist deny the tenants if either of these concepts. So thus I would say your living inconsistent with your theology. Would you not agree?

This is the issue I see time and time again with Calvinist as they explain their theology, but yet live inconsistently outside of it. For example, Total Depravity is one of my favorites. All parents whether they be a Calvinist or not, correct their children when they get out of line or disobey. But why? If a Calvinist truly believes their child is "Totally Depraved" and is born with Original Sin, why are they so surprised when they disobey? If the Calvinist was living consistent would they not just say "Oh well this is to be expected and thus we really can't do anything to change this behavior as the child was "born" this way". Instead, we as parents EXPECT our children to behave rightly and thus this is why we punish or discipline them when they do misbehave. Our conscience or natural law, informs us that we do indeed have the ability to obey rightly and thus we expect our children to act and behave rightly also.

If Total Depravity was factual then why do we prosecute criminals? Aren't they just living the way they were born - totally unable to do what is morally right? We prosecute criminals in our society because we EXPECT them to live according to the natural law God has endowed in every person.

Chris said...

Preston,

I had a great Christmas (which is also my birthday) and enjoyed almost two full weeks off work with my wife and our son, who was home from college. How about you?

Now, in response to your comment. You must not have read the entire post because I think I made it clear that this parable is taking about regenerated people, and a person that has been made alive by God has a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). Once we are born again and the Spirit of God is indwelling us, we sure can examine our motives.

Also, the scenario you have drawn is completely off base; even though the Bible teaches the Sovereignty of God it also teaches the free-will of man, and that we are responsible for our actions (Romans 9).

Chris