28 “What do you think about this? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go to work in the vineyard today.’
29 “His son replied, ‘I don’t want to!’ But later he changed his mind and went.
30 “The father went to the other son and told him the same thing. He replied, ‘I will, sir,’ but he didn’t go.
31 “Which of the two sons did what the father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “I can guarantee this truth: Tax collectors and prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.
I have found that in parenting my children, I am often parenting myself. When I hear me instructing them on the best way to do a task or order their lives or telling them what God has said about this or that, I hear it myself and realize how much I need to heed my own lessons. I have come to see how very much my relationship with God is a parent-child relationship. And that makes me a more humble child of God and a more merciful parent to my kids.
I like this parable because I have two children just like this. I've made my peace with the grumpy nay-sayer who eventually does what he's asked, but it's the cheerful, enthusiastic one who forgets, puts off, or just plain doesn't do what she's asked that really gets me. And this is my lesson from God. Her attitude is great. She seems obedient, but when the dishwasher is not unloaded, and dishes are piling up on the counter and we're eating with plastic forks, I realize exactly what Jesus was saying in the parable: “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. (John 14:15) My child was apologetic, 'sorry, SORRY!' But as I said, that sorry is worthless. That sorry didn't get the dishes put away. That sorry didn't do anything to help me or accomplish the mission.
And I could hear God saying the same to us. It won't matter if we're sorry we didn't feed the poor, or if we accidentally forgot to help the needy, or if we got distracted and didn't share the gospel with the brokenhearted. All our good intentions will not have amounted to anything. If we REALLY love God, we'll obey His commands, and live the life He envisions for us - a life of holy living and humble giving. I want to hear 'well done good and faithful servant', not weeping and gnashing of teeth as I see the life I could have lived, impacting people powerfully for the glory of God.
Lord, help me to remember to be an obedient child and set aside my desires and my pleasures to do the 'chores' you have assigned me. Keep working in me to make me better than I am, molding me more and more in your image. Give me Your wisdom to raise up my children in the way they should go, even as I am still learning that myself. Amen.