"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Raising The Standard: Availability Is Standing By A Task Until It Is Fully Completed

"Therefore, my beloved bretheren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." ~ 1 Corinthians 15:58
How Does Scripture Illustrate The Need To Stand By A Task Until It Is Fully Completed?
King David resolved a conflict among his soldiers by establishing the standard that those who "stayed by the stuff" would share equally with those who went out into battle. Where in Scripture was this same principle applied in a business situation? A scorching sun beat down on men working in a vineyard. The owner of this vineyard had hired them early that morning. They had all agreed on a wage for their day's work. At mid-morning the owner of the vineyard observed the progress of his workers and realized that more laborers would be needed. So he went to the market place and hired more men. He assured them that he would pay a fair wage for the hours they worked. The he sent them into his vineyard. At noon and at three o'clock in the afternoon he did the same thing. Each time he employed more workers, he told them he would pay them a fair wage. About five o'clock the owner realized that still more laborers were needed to finish the job. Again he went into the town and engaged more men. An hour later the foreman was told to call the workers together so that they could be given their pay, they were delighted and grateful. Those who had worked only three hours were paid next. They also received a whole day's pay! So did those who worked only half a day and three quarters of a day. Those laborers who had worked since the early morning hours saw what the owner paid the others. They assumed that he would give them more money than what had been agreed upon. But when they were paid it was exactly the same amount that the other men had received. They began to murmur against the owner of the vineyard. "These who have worked only one hour you have made equal to us who have worked through all the heat of the day." The owner replied to one of them, "My friend, I am not being unjust to you. Didn't you agree to work for the money I have paid you? Take your money and go your way. I have purposed to give those who worked only one hour as much as I have given you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I want with what belongs to me? Must you be jealous because I am doing right?" The owner of that vineyard was just in his dealings because he paid his workers according to the agreement. Scripture states that when he hired the final group of laborers, he asked them, "Why stand ye here all day idle?" They replied, "Because no man has hired us." The men who had worked only one hour were waiting and available to be called all day long. Even though they had not been hired, they stayed and stood by the task until it was completed. Their example and their reward emphasize the value of those who are available --- whether they are called to work or not --- and stand by a task until it is fully completed. ~ From Matthew 20:1-6
How Does The Old Testament Illustrate The Principle Of Recompense?
In battle against the Midianites, one thousand men from each of the twelve tribes were chosen to represent the nation. When the Israelite soldiers returned with a huge spoil, the Lord commanded Moses to divide it equally among those who were chosen to go to war and those who remained at home --- an illustration of tribal solidarity (Numbers 31:27). After Joshua dismissed the fighting men of the two and one-half tribes to return to the east side of the Jordan, he commanded them to divide the spoil of cattle, silver, gold, bronze, and rainment with the non-fighting men who were not chosen to go to war (Joshua 22:8). When David returned form battle against the Amalekites, some of his men did not want to share the spoil with those who were so physically exhausted that they were unable to keep up with the rest and fight. David rebuked them for their greedy attitude, commanding them to divide the spoil with others equally. "And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day." ( 1 Samuel 30:25) The Old Testament commands, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Leviticus 19:18) It nowhere encourages greed or stinginess, rather it encourages love and generosity.
Why Was It Important To The Foreman That The Laborers Stand By Their Task?
It seems almost foolish for the foreman to hire men at the eleventh hour if they weren't already needed. Why hadn't he hired those men earlier since he knew that they had been standing idle all day? (cf. Matthew 20:6) A simple explanation is that he didn't think he needed them. Had he underestimated the work, or over estimated the workers? In light of the attitude revealed in the men first hired, the latter is a more probable explanation. He had a task to complete before nightfall, and he needed extra help. Although the last group of men worked only an hour, they were just as vital to the completion of his goal as the others. Since they remained available when he needed them to finish his task, he gave them a full day's pay.
What Is The Spiritual Reward For Standing By A Task Until It Is Completed?
The parable of the laborers was a response to Peter's question, "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee, What shall we have, therefore?" (Matthew 19:27) Peter wanted to know what was in this for him. Jesus told him that there was much in it for him, but the parable was a gentle rebuke that he had the wrong focus. Only the very first group of laborers had a contract. They received just what they had bargained for, and they were the only ones who were not satisfied. The others had no contract and were delighted and grateful with the foreman's generosity. Jesus wanted followers who asked for no reward and whose concern was not for what they would gain. The greater rewards are for those who seek none. He is looking for those who ask only the opportunity to work in His vineyard. The parable teaches that service for Christ will be faithfully rewarded and that faithfulness to one's opportunities will be rewarded. The amount will depend more on motive and availability than on ambition and activity. There are three things the opossum needs in order for it to be happy --- woods, food, and water. The opossum will den up in a hole anywhere, whether it be on the ground or up in a tree. It is particular, though, that the lodge be warm, dry, and near woods. The wondering habits of this nocturnal animal usually force it to seek out new lodging every day. An omnivorous feeder, the opossum's diet is unlimited --- from plants to small animals. It is not above eating carrion; in fact, that is a major portion of its diet. The opossum is very easygoing and can tolerate almost any environment and all types of weather. Because this animal is so congenial and adaptable, its range and its population are increasing.
How Does The Opossum Illustrate Availability By Standing By A Task Until It Is Completed?
Frightened, two boys scrambled for garden rakes in order to defend themselves against the intruder. The biggest rat they had ever seen had wandered into the garage and stowed itself behind some tall boxes. The animal had a long, hairless tail. The shape of its body and head also closely resembled a rat's. One of the boys had seen some rats at the town dump a few years ago. He was sure they were up against a giant rat. As the boys approached, the hissing creature turned and ran for the corner of the garage. Dodging through the jungle of tools, boxes, and stacks of wood, the animal was able to outmaneuver the boys, slip through the open door, and quickly scale the large oak tree outside the garage. As it climbed farther and farther out of reach, the boys stared up in surprise. They had never known a rat to climb a tree. Then they noticed the colors of the animals fur were black, gray and white. The boy remembered the rats he had seen were brown in color. Determined to identify the animal, they went to the library. There they were interested to discover that this was not a rat but an opossum. As they read further, they learned that the opossum is marsupial. Like the kangaroos, this animal has a pouch in which the mother feeds and carries her young as they develop. After an incredibly short gestation period of twelve days and eighteen hours, her tiny young are born. Because her young are so minute and require such special care, the opossum is provided with a protective pouch on its abdomen. This pouch frees the mother from having to coax or herd the young to safety. This is a particular advantage because confronted with danger and having the young secure in her pouch, she needs to concentrate only on her own escape. This built-in pouch also enables the mother to give her young the warmth and special protection they so vitally need. Until able to fend for themselves they cling to her, enabling her to stand by and complete the task of bringing them through the critical development period. It was only a few weeks later that the boys saw the animal again when the family car pulled into the driveway. Its headlights illuminated the beady eyes of the opossum as it stopped and stared into the bright lights. As the boys looked again, they noticed something different. Little babies clung to the fur of the mother's back. The boys realized that when the opossum was in the garage her pouch must have contained these young. They relaxed back in their seats thankful that they had been unable to catch the animal and that no harm had befallen either the mother or her young.

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