Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Parable of the Laborers

After I gave a message on this parable at Living Truth Christian Fellowship, a few people suggested I turn it into a blog posting on Coaches Corner. This is one of a few important lessons learned in this parable. I hope you are blessed by it. You might want to have your Bible open to follow along:

We begin in Matt 20:1, "For the kingdom of heaven is like(whenever you see this phrase, you know that Jesus is teaching us how it works in God's economy as opposed to the system of this
world) a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard." Keep in mind as we follow the story that the word used for landowner really denotes a person who has complete authority. Notice that the first group he hires has signed on for an agreed upon salary. A denarius is similar to what a penny is for us, or at least used to be. It represented a normal
wage at this time. "About the third hour (9am) he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right." Notice the difference here. The beginning of verse 5 says they went, but they went without any idea of what they would get paid! Apparently they trusted the master to be fair with them.

Matt 20:5-7 "He went out again about the sixth hour (noon) and the ninth hour (3pm) and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour (5pm, one hour until end of day) he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' "Because no one has hired us,' they answered."He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard." This whole scenario kind of reminds me of when I go to Lowe's on a Saturday morning and on the way, the day laborers are waiting for someone to give them work. It is worth noting that the last three groups had three things in common. One, they were basically doing nothing. Two, they agreed to work, not knowing what they would get paid. Three, it was the master's desire to give them purpose. Let's read the rest of the story.

Matt 20:8-16 "When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first. The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.' "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'"So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Now, let's be honest. How many of us would feel like the men who were hired first and worked all day. All of a sudden, what we thought was a fair wage seems unfair because those who worked less got the same amount. There are some applications to be made here. Example: Have you ever noticed how today's professional athlete signs a giant contract worth millions of dollars, but as soon as a teammate signs for more, he becomes unhappy and wants a renegotiation of his contract? That's exactly what happened to these workers. He uses this parable then to teach an important and practical lesson. Look at the contrast between those who were contracted to work for a set fee and those who just trusted the master. Who had more joy in the outcome? Who received the greater blessing? The Lord is showing us that we are not to worry about what He is doing for others or comparing our lives with others

Living life in this worldly way will never lead to a joy or contentment .Comparing what we might get with what someone else gets, always leads to unhappiness. If you look back in Chapter 19, you will see how the disciples were talking about all that they left behind to follow Jesus? They were implying that it might not be fair. That maybe all they lost would not be worth it. They even asked what would be in it for them in the end. It is interesting that Jesus did not rebuke them for their selfish thought, but actually gave them some indication of their eternal reward. Look back at verse 28 of Chapter 19. "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. He goes on to say on verse 29,"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."

Jesus taught Peter this same lesson in John Chapter 21. He starts out by asking Peter three times "Do you love me?" Let's pick up the story in verse 18, "I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." Jesus is making the same point as in the parable Don't concern yourself with what I have in mind for others but do what I have called you
to do!

We can be content only in doing what we are called to do! That is what brings us great joy and fulfillment in this life. We know that we serve a master, who by His very nature is completely fair and just. We can be certain that however he rewards us, as it says in Ephesians 3:20, it will be more than we could ever ask or imagine. We should be like the workers who trusted that the Master to be fair. He loves us and has plans for us that are good, not evil l (Jer 29:1). Let's make it our goal to learn what God has called us individually to do and then be content doing it!

God bless, Coach










Monday, April 12, 2010

True Humility

OK, I know what you're thinking. What can a former athlete and football coach possibly know about humility! Well, we often know the most about the area of our life that we struggle
with the most. The truth is that most people, who are involved in some type of leadership, are going to struggle with our pride and ego. In fact, I think that God specifically invented the game of golf just to keep me humble. Guess what, it worked!

I think that most people would say that humility is a good quality to have and yet in our society, it seems that self promotion is glorified. Look at some of the most popular reality shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and even Survivor. We see people on camera, bragging about how they are the best and will certainly win. If they don't do this, they are told that they don't have the amount of self confidence necessary to be successful. (By the way, I only know this because of the commercials; I don't really watch the shows) Is there a dichotomy in our culture, where we say that we value humility in a person, but in actuality, we look down such a person?

Well, no matter how the world looks at this, as Christians we need to see how God looks at it. Why is this an important topic? Look at what it says in both the book of James (4:6) and 1st Peter (5:5). "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." It goes on to say in 1st Peter 5:6, "Humble yourselves therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. That gets my attention, how about you? I want to know God's definition of humility and ask Him to make me that kind of person, don't you?

So what does the Bible say about humility and what qualities make up a humble person? I think that we often times have a wrong impression of what true humility is. If I were to ask you to describe the attributes of a humble person, what would you say? I think many people might list these characteristics:

  1. Quiet, timid, thinking that their opinions are not as valuable as others
  2. Always lets the other person have their way
  3. Never talk about themselves
  4. Thinks that everyone else is better than them at everything

Maybe you are thinking of other qualities as well. Go ahead and add them to this list. Maybe even think of a person that you know that defines the word humility for you. Here is how the dictionary defines the word humble;

: not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive
: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission <a humble apology>
3 a
: ranking low in a hierarchy or scale :

Let's see if these hold up in the light of scripture. In the Old Testament there are a few different words used to describe "the humble". They referred to people of low circumstances, poor, oppressed or afflicted but was often translated as "meek" in the King James. One particular verse though stands out to me. In 2nd Chronicles 7:16, God says "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." In this case, the word is kana and it means, "To bend the knee". The idea here is that the children of Israel would bow and surrender their will to God's will and be in subjection to Him. I believe that this parallels what the New Testament teaches us about being humble.

The word used for humility in the Greek is tapeinophrisune. It is a compound of tapeinos (humiliated in circumstance or disposition) and phren (to rein in, specifically of the mind or cognitive faculties). This give us a little better understanding but to really know what a humble person looks like we must look to the perfect example of humility, Jesus Christ. Look at what it says in Phil 2:3-8

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!

. Paul tells us that humility simply means not doing things out of selfish ambition, but considering others needs above our own, just the way our Savior did. He was a servant and we should have that same attitude, a servant's heart. But when we look at Jesus' life, did that mean He was always timid, never speaking up? Did He did never oppose anyone or tell people when they were wrong? Of course He did! Sometimes as a servant, it is necessary to speak the truth in love, as He often did to His disciples and even the leaders of Israel. Sometimes it is necessary to oppose forces of evil, just as He did when He drove the moneychangers out of the temple. You can't be timid and do that!

I believe that the key to being humble, as God certainly wants us to be, is not in personality traits, but in bowing our knee to God. We submit ourselves to Him and follow His will, as it says to do in the verse we read earlier, 1 Peter 5:6. We ask the Holy Spirit to give us a servant's heart and follow the example of Jesus. Then we can be free from a false humility, like that which Paul warns about in Col 3:23 and serve others the way He would have us serve. When we have the "mind of Christ," we then have true humility and take no credit for any service that we might render. We know that any good work is work done in the power of the Holy Spirit and all the glory goes to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen!


1. Using a concordance, look up all the verses you can find with the words humble, humbled or humility in them. See if you can get a better understanding of what true humility is

2. In your prayer time, ask the Lord to give you an opportunity to be servant to someone that day and for the Holy Spirit to help you recognize it and give you the power to follow through

3. At the end of the day, reflect back on what happened. Was there an opportunity to be a servant? How did you respond? Thank the Lord for any victory you might have had. Ask and receive forgiveness for any failure. Praise Him for His love and goodness to you!

4 Try doing this each day for one week. See what God does!

God Bless you, Coach