Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
No More “Tit-for-tat”
“Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.”
As a culture, we are much enamored with the concept of “reaping what you sow.” It is all over our newspapers and our entertainment – we love when the hardworking underdog ends up winning against the odds, or when criminals finally get caught and must pay for their crimes. We tell workers that they have to “put in their time” to earn respect and credibility, and students will surely remember from the last semester whether their diligence (or lack of) paid off. What we are saying is this: what you put in, is what you get out.
While reaping what we sow as it plays out in the mind of the general public is not exactly described by the Word, we know that there are consequences (good and bad), for all the things we do. Here, a similar mindset captures Reuben’s thoughts. Twenty-two years later, Joseph’s blood continues to weigh on the conscience of the brothers; Reuben believes that their sin will finally catch up with them, and now they will have to pay dearly.
But, the story of Joseph’s brothers provides a twist to this idea – we may often reap what we sow, but because God rules over the earth and He loves us, we always reap in grace many more times than we have sown. Believers know that God’s grace provides far better outcomes than we can earn. Whatever was done in the past will be covered over by God’s grace. And though we will have new privilege to partner in God’s work, it is He who carries out all plans and displays incredible amounts of mercy and love.
Today, let us be generous in sowing mercy, forgiveness, and love wherever we go. We should take every opportunity to express a faithful and godly lifestyle. However, though we know we will fall short, we can also give thanks in advance that our God’s hand rests upon every circumstance. Let us face every decision and consequence with a peaceful assurance that He will continuously send streams of mercy into our lives.
Prayer: Lord, we praise You for being in charge over this earth! Thank You that we can live lives that are covered by Your grace. Thank You for restoring and redeeming every work of our hands. Give us hearts that desire to sow things in accordance with Your character and will. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Numbers 21
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 20:1-16
“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. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius[a] a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 And to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 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?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 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.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 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.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”
Questions to Consider
- What was promised to each one of the workers? Why is this significant?
- What do the first workers’ reactions reveal about what they thought their reward should be?
- Let’s take time to look at ourselves and determine how well we reconcile our work and God’s reward for ourselves. Are we more inclined to be overwhelmed by God’s generosity, or do we look at what others receive and compare with jealousy?
- The hired workers at the beginning of the day were promised a denarius – about a day’s worth of wages. This may seem to be a proper wage for their labor. The men hired at the third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours were told that they would be paid ”whatever is right.”
- The workers were upset with their wages. Although they had agreed to work for a denarius, when they saw others receiving the same benefit. They felt that their additional labor and harsh labors entitled them to additional benefits from the master of the house.
- This parable is meant to show how, even when God bestows grace in our lives, we may be tempted to desire earning ’more’ than the others around us. We may try to associate the grace we receive with the ’work’ that we have done. We will be tempted to forget that our commitment is solely between us and the Master; whatever He determines for us is fair and generous. Let us understand how lavish His grace is for us, and there will not be a need to look elsewhere.
We will end the week reflecting on God’s grace in our lives. Let’s take time to note how He has provided for us, redeemed, and restored. This thankfulness will allow us to see how abundant and generous His grace is over us.