Ken Rudge, St. Austell, England
‘Son, go work today in my vineyard’, Matt. 21. 28.
The question that provoked the exchange between the Lord and the chief priests and elders, of which our text is part, was the question of authority. Who has the right of command and where does the responsibility for obedience fall? They felt that He was required to tell them the ground for His authority. He asked from them the evidence of submission, which is obedience. The one without the other fails to provide a way forward. Even they recognized that to say John the Baptist was sent from God meant that they were required to respond to his message, v. 25.
This is the crux of our present dilemma in assembly testimony and witness. We acknowledge His authority but we fall miserably behind in our responsive obedience to His word. We have lost the immediacy of living for God 24/7, which is every hour of every day. The problem is that if we don’t, then it doesn’t work! His illustrative parable of the man and his two sons draws our attention to this vital principle.
‘Son’– Very few would deny the Lord’s authority in relation to us as His servants to ask of us service. Yet it is at a much higher level of relationship that He exhorts us to comply with the obedience of service. We do it as sons. This exalts our labours to those who intelligently know and want to please our Father. No bondage this, but the outcome of filial devotion. Get a grasp of that!
‘Go work’ – There is something we need to be doing for Him. He otherwise would not ask. Too often we see what needs to be done and leave it to others or dispute its worth. Anything, it would seem sometimes, is better to us than just doing it for Him. What are you doing now for Him? If you are still here then you should know why, else it were better you were in heaven!
‘Today’ – Our fleeting opportunity to serve the Lord is now. In heaven it will be the activity of every moment, but now we have to choose, to determine to serve. Today is all we have, so greet the day with the expectancy and joy that there is still time. Who wants to suffer loss at the judgement seat of Christ? Some would seem to feel it inevitable and with considered lethargy, dawdle into eternity without lifting a hand. It’s the ‘I go, but he went not’ of the second son that is their motto for spiritual inactivity.
‘In my vineyard’ – Careful and concerned sons are aware that service rendered outside where the Father would have us to work, is wasted labour. We need to be involved only with that which will in a coming day yield, ‘gold, silver and precious stones’, 1 Cor. 3. 12, 13. Do we covet to have finished the course, run the race, won the crown? Then let us not waste our opportunity by being careless as to just what we are involved in as if it didn’t matter. It does, the fire will reveal it.
Let us face a new year with renewed vision and vigour so that in every day of it we will serve the Lord as true sons. This first issue of 2004 has in it some devotional articles that should feed our affections for the Lord. There is also a considerable exhortation to service and the article on access into schools by our brother David Tinkler should encourage us to move through open doors of evangelistic opportunity. Brian Gunning’s Keynote exposition on prayer in the assembly is outstanding and should not only be read but imprinted on every elder’s heart as that which needs to done in the assembly without fail. Malcolm Horlock’s central pull out studies in 1 Corinthians draws near to a close with the first of two expositions of chapter 15. We are so grateful to the Lord for brethren able to give us this quality of teaching. May the Lord thus encourage us to serve and to await His coming with joy.