I've been reading a lot about God's grace and what the means in my life. I struggle with this evil thing called pride, the belief that somehow I am more deserving of God's love than others. Here's a recent journal entry:
Sometimes (read: OFTEN) I fall into a trap of pride in which I forget just how undeserving I am of God's grace. I actually fool myself into thinking that I am somehow more 'deserving' of the free! gift of salvation than others.
Even as I write it and whenever I consciously think about it - I realize just how absurd it is and what a fool I really am.
And yet, I can't seem to shake the feeling of pride and I get anxious, wondering "just what will it take to learn this lesson?" What are you going to do to get my attention God? (I'm more than just a little anxious at the thought).
So today I read in Matthew 20:1-16, the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. I've included it here for you to read:
"For the kingdom of heaven is like 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.
"About the third hour 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.' So they went.
"He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. Abut the eleventh hour 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.'
"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."
As someone who accepted Christ at a young age I sometimes think "well, sure it's nice of God to love ________ so much that they can have their sins forgiven on their death bed, but SURELY, God loves me a little (lot!) more because of my faithfulness to him through my whole life."
Niki, you are wrong.
Yes, God delights in my faithfulness in part because he is my father and as my father he is thankful that I have saved myself a lot of headaches by not living a life that is contrary to what he has planned for me (just like my Papi). But God is God and he has EVERY right to choose what he does with his love and grace and who he extends it to and when.
This is not an easy answer to something I've always struggled with, but it's a lesson I'm learning, almost daily.
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard and The Parable of the Prodigal Son are both parables that are hard for me to accept. I pray that I will soon learn God's grace in an extraordinary way (but I wonder what that means...what will I have to experience here in the 'physical realm' in order to experience God's grace from the 'spiritual realm').
Some food for thought.