Tag Archives: parable

Give to God What Belongs to God

In Jesus’ parable of the tenants, there is a man who plants a vineyard and rents it out.  When it is harvest time, he sends his representative to collect some of the harvest (which is likely the terms of lease).  Instead of remitting to the owner what is due him, the tenants refuse, mistreating everyone the owner sends, even to the point of killing his son.  The owner then kills the evil tenants and leases the vineyard to others.

Perhaps the first part of this parable is a picture of what God wants from us.  As tenants in his creation, he desires us to give part of our “crop” to him as a form of “rent” for the privilege of living here.  This seems simple enough, but often we are greedy, wanting to keep everything for ourselves.  The implication is that God will then find someone else who is willing give to him what is due him.

This is perhaps what Jesus had in mind when on another occasion says “…and give to God what belongs to God.”

[Luke 20:6-19 and Matthew 22:21]

Do You Want More?

Here is another thought building on the prior post about one of Jesus’ parables.

To review, the parable is about a noble man who,before going on a journey, entrusts three servants with varying amounts of money to invest for him.  The first two invest their amounts and earn a good return, apparently doubling their stakes.  The third however, to whom little is entrusted, makes no effort to invest it.  He lazily does nothing and merely returns the original amount to his master.  This is done under the guise of keeping it safe.  The master takes the money from the lazy servant and gives it to the first servant.  The people nearby protest that this is not fair.

Jesus replies “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.”

The lesson in this seems to be that to those who have been blessed with resources and have been faithful with them, more will be given.  However, to those who have not faithful with what they have, that too will be taken away.  We must be wise and faithful stewards.

A direct application of this may be for the person who is asking God for more, be it for physical provision or spiritual blessing.  Perhaps their felt lack is a result of them having already been unfaithful with what they had been given; therefore it was taken away.

The warning in this is that perhaps we shouldn’t ask God for more if we have misused or squandered what he has already provided.

[Luke 19:11-27]

A Hard Man

Doctor Luke records a parable of Jesus.  It is about a noble man who, before going on a journey, entrusts three servants with varying amounts of money to invest for him.   The first two invest their amounts and earn a good return, apparently doubling their stakes.  The third however, to whom little is entrusted, makes no effort to invest it.  He lazily does nothing and merely returns the original amount to his master.  This is done under the guise of keeping it safe, calling his master a “hard man.”  The master judges him accordingly, taking the money away from him and giving it to the first servant.

Although we must guard against reading too much into a parable, the noble man in this one parallels God.  When the servant declares that the noble is a “hard man,” is this a characteristic that we can apply to God?  At first glance it is difficult, perhaps even seeming sacrilegious, to call God “hard,” but is there truth that can be gleaned form this?  In balancing the paradox of a God of love with a God whom we fear, does a “hard” God fit somewhere into the picture of who he is?

For those who think God will give them a free pass regardless of how they act or what they do, the image of God as hard, that is a strict God, might be a good characteristic for them to ponder.

However, there are also those who view God as mean and vindictive, just waiting for them to mess up so that he can inflict ill-will upon them.  Their view of God is already way too “hard”; they will do well to focus on his loving nature instead.

Yes, God does have a hard side to him, but that’s not all there is to him; he is also loving and gentle.

[Luke 19:11-27]

Acts of Omission

When I think of being punished, be it by God or man, I think in terms of things I do wrong.  That is, doing things that I shouldn’t have done; some people call these “acts of commission” — things I have committed.

However, there can also be consequences for not doing the things we should have done.  Some call these “acts of omission.”

Jesus talks about acts of omission in a parable about the sheep and the goats.  The goats were guilty, not of doing wrong, but of not doing what was right.  Their failure was a failure to act.  Jesus even gives specific examples: a failure to feed the hungry, a failure to provide water to the thirsty, a failure to show hospitality to the stranger, a failure to give clothes to those in need, and a failure to look after the sick and imprisoned.

Each of these are huge issues — and overwhelming — but enormity is not an excuse for inaction.  While one person can’t solve all of these issues — or even one of them — each person can do something, be it simply to help one person who is hungry, thirsty, homeless, needy, or hurting.

Don’t be a goat; help someone today.

[Matthew 25:31-46]

A Different Prescription For Prayer

In Matthew 20, Jesus shares a parable, predicts his death, teaches about serving, and heals two blind men.  Nowhere does he mention prayer, yet in this chapter I see two insights about prayer.

First, the mother of James and John makes a request of Jesus. [Matthew 20:20-22]  She asks if her sons can be given places of honor, sitting on Jesus’ left and right.  Jesus’ response is, “You don’t know what you are asking!”

I suspect that many of our prayers evoke the same response, “You don’t know what you are asking.”  Just as James and John’s mother did not have a right understanding of Jesus’ purpose and intent, missing God’s perspective, so to, we often miss God’s intent and fail to see his perspective.  As such our prayers are off base, asking for the wrong things, which are inconsequential.

In the account of the blind men being healed [Matthew 20:29-34], the men boldly call out for Jesus to have mercy on them.  When Jesus hears them, he asks, “What do you want?”  They have already asked for mercy, but Jesus wants them to be specific.  As soon as they ask to see, he gives them their sight.

How often do we make a general request for God’s blessing, mercy, or grace?  These are vague, non-expectant petitions.  When making such a plea, how can we ever realize the answers?  When our requests are specific, the answers become obvious — and praiseworthy.

So, when we pray, it should be specific and it should be with God’s perspective in mind.

The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven?

The phrase “the Kingdom of God” is synonymous with “the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Some writers in the Bible simply prefer one over the other; it is not meant to designate two different concepts or kingdoms.  (Mark and Luke used “Kingdom of God,” whereas Matthew used “Kingdom of heaven.”)

These phrases can perhaps be best understood by considering that Jesus desires to brings heaven’s rule to earth.  Under his rule, there are benefits and responsibilities to his subjects — the church.

Jesus explains about the Kingdom of God/Heaven through parables:

How do these parables change your view of God and our relationship to him?