by Leslie E. Maxwell
For sacrificial and self-denying service, Christ promises a reward. Everyone who has forsaken houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, says the Savior, “shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life (Matt. 19:29).
For sacrificial and self-denying service, Christ promises a reward. Everyone who has forsaken houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, says the Savior, "shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life (Matt. 19:29).
This promise is in connection with Peter’s question: "Lo, we have left all, and followed thee; what then shall we have?" The rich young ruler had just disobeyed. He had turned his back on Christ. And a bright question occurred to Peter. If the young ruler would have been so enriched by leaving all, even at that late hour, what compensation will we have, he asked. We have obeyed and sacrificed all – and that a long time ago. Nor did the Savior minimize the rewards to His disciples when He went on to promise that they would be administrators and rulers sitting upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And He included everybody who for His sake should suffer loss, promising them a hundredfold even in this life, as well as the life to come.
But notice the immediate word of warning. "But many shall be last that are first; and first that are last." He expanded this with the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, repeating in conclusion, "So the last shall be first, and the first last."
Christian workers are warned here against thinking that the mere fact of having made a sacrifice, even a costly one, insures great reward. As to length of time and extent of sacrifice, Peter and the other disciples had been first. Yet they might be last in God’s estimation and in the amount of reward. Everything would depend on their motivation. A humble, glad, self-forgetful spirit is far more valuable in God’s sight than a great sacrifice made in the kind of spirit that seems to have prompted Peter’s bargain-making question. While some "shall receive a hundredfold," an expression that implies the proportion between the sacrifice and the reward, the fact remains that "many" who have left all and served a long life of sacrifice "shall be last." On the other hand some eleventh-hour laborers who work with a hilarious, grateful spirit will come in for first place on the day of reward.
Great peril is attached to long service in the Lord’s vineyard. We "who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat" can fall into a bargaining spirit, "supposing we should receive more." If not more compensation, certainly more attention, or recognition, or rights. Some younger brother comes to the field full of first love and hilarious zeal. A youngster, and a latecomer at that. Yet he also gets a penny. Does he seem to be "stealing the show"? When David went out to the battlefront his jealous older brothers wondered where he had "left those few sheep." "Is there not a cause?" David answered.
It is frightening that the hireling spirit can motivate true disciples. Having labored long we can cool off. We can begin to calculate. In the spirit of the elder brother we can begin, perhaps only inwardly, to complain, "Lo, these many years do I serve thee, and I never transgressed a commandment of thine; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends" (Luke 15:29, ASV). But our Father assures us: "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that is mine is thine" you might have had a love-feast with me at any time, had you not lost your first love.
Being candid, how long has it been since you had a feast over our Father’s word, at His table? You once were so delighted if only you could be a doorkeeper in His house. Has that delight departed? Has there come in a spirit of self-righteousness and self-complacency that genders calculation and compensation and bargaining? Do you count up hours and days? just so many months till vacation and furlough and your wellearned rest? What a miserable thing, such bargaining. The laborers who bargained got what they bargained for; the ones who served hilariously and happily got more than their hearts could wish.
Didn’t I once "agree" with the Master of the vineyard for life’s long day, pay or no pay? When did I begin to calculate and "suppose that I should receive more"? Where was it along the dusty road that I measured that first mile? Where did I lose the spirit of "the second mile"?
The measured mile makes the Pharisee. "In the Kingdom of God the yardstick is broken" (Chadwick).
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