Pride is one the most interesting sins. Murder, lying, sexual immorality and stealing are a little more clear cut and obvious in our culture. To even say "Oh, pride, that's not something that I struggle with," seems....well, a little prideful. But the reality is that the root of all sin is in our pride. This is where we become big fans of the "ME" team. This is when you and I see, desire and pursue something or someone for ourselves. For example we use statements like I want ____, They said no but I'm going to _____, They did ____ to me and so I'm going to ______ them.
Even the church experiences the manifestations of pride in the form of church splits, divorces, fights, competition and territorialism. Unfortunately the effects are felt from the pastors to every member, really no one is immune. Mark Galli wrote an article on the need to pray for your pastor. As a young pastor of Vintage Church, just a little over a year under my belt, I think my intensified battle in the area of pride since taking on this new role with the Body of Christ has been an interesting journey for me.
As I was recently reflecting God drew me to Matthew 20:1-16, which is an interesting parable that I haven't paid much attention to. As I read and meditated on this passage, God showed me that dismantling the pride in my life depends on my continual pursuit and surrender to the Gospel, which includes accepting His grace that is displayed here.
Note God's grace seen through the Master's activity:
- The Master goes out FIVE times in the parable seeking and enlisting laborers to work the vineyard - early morning (v.1), 3rd hour (v.3), 6th hour (v.5), 9th hour (v.5), 11th hour (v.6). As the Master's laborers, we really don't have any room to be prideful given that He has called, saved and enlisted us as laborers in the Kingdom. Our foundation to serve in the Kingdom is a response of gratitude to God's generous grace seen in the way that He responded to our need through Jesus Christ.
- The Master calls all of the laborers in order to pay. (v.8) Each laborer receives a denarius. On my first read I felt as if the first laborers deserved more having worked longer, all day, than the rest of the laborers. This is an example of my pride, "That's not fair, those first laborers have been sweating longer and working longer." But again I'm confronted with God's generous grace. The denarius that each laborer gets paid is the normal wage for a day, in this way the Master provides for the daily provision for each laborer. As a laborer of the Master, I should be thankful for the ways in which God's grace provides for and meets my daily needs. This is because honestly worrying about other laborers is simply above my pay grade.
In response to this parable I would offer us a couple of questions to consider
- What's your role within God's kingdom?
-The reality is that if we have been saved by the Gospel then we each have been empowered to be a witness for the Gospel. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul uses the analogy of different body parts to talk about how each of us are uniquely gifted by the Spirit as a part of the Body of Christ for a certain role. Some of us are left hands, other are ears, others are mouths and others are big toes. The message here is that all of us are equally valuable to the body as a whole. So I don't know your passions, gifts or desires but I do know that God desires to use them within a local church body for the work of the Kingdom. So I encourage you to connect with a local church body and serve.
- Are you ever jealous of what God has given to another laborer?
-If we are honest we have all experienced times when pride has crept in and have been jealous of others. Sometimes this is because we wish we could have their role. Other times this is because we want to judge them in their role. And other times this is that we think we could do better than them. But Jesus' encouragement from Matthew 20:1-16 is to focus on God's generous grace in our lives. Again each of us are equal in value in Christ and have simply been called to faithfully follow Him in our own life. So let's quit complaining and start working for the Master to see others come into the Kingdom.