Two Questions — Two Incredible Answers
By The Rev.
For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out
early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard . . . and the
householder replied . . . "Am I not allowed to do as I choose with
what belongs to me?"
--Matthew 20: 1, 15a
"Am I not allowed to do as I choose with what belongs to
If that were anyone other than God speaking, it would be nothing less than
sheer impudence! But it is God speaking. Jesus
makes that absolutely clear in verse 1, with his very first words, "For
the kingdom of heaven is like a householder..."
Jesus wants us to know from the very
start that this is not just some nice, little 'once upon a time' story.
This is God's story; this is our story, yours and mine.
This is the real, life-story of the relationship that exists between God
and each one of us.
That 'household' in the parable is GOD! Those laborers in the parable are
you and me!
And in verse 15, we hear God saying, "Am I not allowed to do as I choose
with what belong to me?" And all at once, two very interesting questions
leap to the stage asking for
1. What does belong to God? and
2. What does God choose to do with what belongs to God?
As to the first question, "What does
belong to God?" the psalmist is right there to give us our first clear
insight, "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it; the world,
and all who dwell in it." Psalm 24:1. Then listen to David's prayer as he
dedicates the offerings and gifts the people have given: "Thine, O Lord,
is the greatness, and the power, and the glory and the victory, and the
majesty; for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is thine." I
Finally, from the Epistle of James: "Every good endowment and every
perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father,"
What belongs to God really becomes
clear as we listen to those representative passages, doesn't
it? EVERYTHING : "Everything in heaven and in the earth" is God's.
What does God do with this "everything in heaven and in the earth" that is
God's? First thing out
of the box, before the dust of creation even has a chance to settle, God
takes some of that dust, fashions you and me in God's very own
image, then breathes into our nostrils the breath
of life, and we become ~ each one of us ~ a living being. (Genesis 1 and
One of the very first things God does with this "everything in heaven
and in the earth" that is God's is this: God starts to give it away, to
share it, and use it so that others may have
life, so that others may be blessed.
Do you know what else God does with this "everything in heaven and in the
earth" that is God's? Listen, again, to the psalmist: The eyes of all wait
upon you, O Lord, and you give them their meat in due season.
You open your hand and satisfy the desire or every living thing." That's
the "second" thing God does with this "everything in heaven and in the
earth" that is God's . God shares it
with you ... freely gives you everything you need to nourish, to
sustain, to make rich and full the life God has given you .
Just listen to this: "God has
provided you with every blessing in abundance, so that you not only have
enough of everything you need, but in such measure that there is enough
for sharing with other people." That's terrific! Absolutely terrific!
Not only enough for your every need, but is such measure that you can
actually be God-like, by sharing it
with other people; by using it to bless other people; by giving it in such
manner that others may have life. Isn't that incredible?
Wait! There's more!
As the crowning touch, God bestows
upon you and me the dignity and honor of being the stewards of this
"everything in heaven and in the earth" that is God's . God takes this
"everything in heaven and in the earth" that is God's and places it in
your hands and mine as a trust, to administer it, to use it, to care for
it, and to manage it in partnership with God and with each other,
that God's good purposes and will may be realized and accomplished.
That is one incredible calling! To be a steward. To be a worker together with God and with one another,
bringing God's will and desires and purposes to fulfillment. There is no
greater joy than this! For herein is God's Name praised and
honored and highly exalted.
The Rev. George Haynes wrote this for the Spring 1995 issue of
Faith in Action,
the publication of Lutheran Laity Movement. At the time he was ELCA
program specialist for congregational and synodical stewardship services,
Division for Congregational Ministries, in the Southwestern Texas and Gulf
© Copyright 1995, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
This essay first appeared in the Spring 1995 issue of Faith
in Action. Articles in Faith in Action may be reproduced for use in ELCA
and ELCIC congregations provided each copy carries the note:
Copyright 1995, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Reprinted with permission.