Obedience Rethought

by Dr. Ken Matto

(Mat 21:28-29 KJV) But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. {29} He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

The above passages are taken from the Parable of the two sons. Jesus told this parable concerning two sons. A father who owned a vineyard came to his sons and asked them if they would work in his vineyard. The first son said that he did not want to go but later he had a change of heart and went to work in the field. The second son had told his father that he would go to work in the field but he did not. The second son was an outright liar who was also probably lazy but wanted to impress his father by telling him that he would go out into the field. Did this son actually believe that his father would not find out that he lied? The first son was probably telling his father honestly that he did not want to go work in the field. Yet something changed his mind. Maybe it was the fact that his father was kind to him or the fact that maybe his father had supplied a good home for him from the fruits of the vineyard. Yet, whatever happened, this son had a change of heart which caused him to go to work in the vineyard.

This is representative of the mindset that many Christians have. It is a natural reaction to some type of ministry which the Lord has given us and because we feel inadequate, we initially believe that we will never be able to handle the ministry. Then as we go along we begin to have a change of heart and then once we are convicted of that assignment, we will go into it full blast. Yet how many times does God have to prod us before we finally realize what our lifeís calling is. There have been many missionaries who were called to the field that initially refused to go. They bartered with God and told Him that if they could go into business they would fund missions to the best of their ability. Think about it for a minute, if no one went to the mission field, then who would the businesses be funding?

I think we have all tried to barter with God at some times in our life when He calls on us to do something. We must keep in mind a very special principle. When God calls us for a certain ministry, there is no way that we are going to refuse it and tell God to get someone else to do it. Guess who found that out the hard way? Remember Jonah? He received his marching orders from God and refused to go to Nineveh. He then entered into a boat which was literally going hundreds of miles in the opposite direction. Like Jonah, many Christians do not feel that their disobedience will affect anybody else. The total opposite is true as we see in Jonah the consequences of his disobedience. Unlike God blessing Potipharís house for the sake of Joseph, God had brought calamity on the ship where Jonah was. You see, our obedience can bring the blessing of God to others while our disobedience can bring the stern hand of God against us and our surroundings. I wonder how many homes been upset because of the disobedience of Godís children within that home.

We must never entertain the notion that if we are disobedient to God, that somehow we will get away with it. That can never happen! This does not only apply to parents who may be walking disobediently but it also applies to the children in the home too. Christian children are just as accountable to God as Christian adults are. Look at the extended consequences of Jonahís disobedience. (Jonah 1:5 KJV) Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. Here we see that the sailors were so afraid that the ship was going to be destroyed that they even threw the merchandise, their cargo, overboard. Now that merchandise probably did not belong to the crew but to someone who was paying them to transport it.

Now those third parties had nothing whatsoever to do with the disobedient Jonah, yet because he was disobedient, they also suffered loss. Our disobedience to God will affect people with a ripple effect. Throw a stone in a pond and you will see the ripples go away from the center. Well that is how we affect people that we do not even know. In the military, Generals and Admirals make decisions which affect people that they do not even know. When a soldier dies, the commanding officer will not likely know the name of the soldier, but his action affected that soldier and his immediate and extended families plus his friends. We must learn a mighty lesson from this that every action that we take will have an effect upon someone.

There might be some who are reading this right now that some time in the past the Lord had given you a ministry and you walked away from it hoping that someone else would fill your shoes, yet you know in the back of your mind that God is not allowing you to remain disobedient. If we know that somehow we walked disobediently, then we must become like the first son who repented of his refusal to go work in Godís vineyard. Then if we become obedient and repent of any past refusals, we may find that the second time will be harder on us. Delayed obedience will definitely have an effect upon us. It is better to obey God the first time, even if we do not understand what is happening. This is why the Christian life goes from faith to faith and not from sight to sight. (Rom 1:17 KJV) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.  (2/25/05)