December 12, 2020
Middlebrook Pike UMC
Tennessee Valley District
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
The Parable of the Two Sons
DevotionThis parable reminds me of a conversation that changed my attitude and actions. When I was a young mother with my first child, I was complaining to my mother about my dissatisfaction with the Vacation Bible School experience at my local church. Expecting her to be sympathetic, I was surprised when she asked me why I had not volunteered to help. After I gave her my list of excuses (busy, tired, inexperienced, not asked to help, etc.), she replied with, “It is your turn to start helping others. You have a child and need to start helping with the children’s programs. You went to VBS all your life. That was your time to receive. Now, it’s your time to give.” Needless to say, she was right, although I didn’t see it that way at the moment.
Did I immediately volunteer for children’s ministry programs? No, it took me awhile. But I did eventually, and I learned just how much work, effort, and planning go into each program. Over time, this giving of work, effort, and planning became a joy. Like the second son, it can be easy to give verbal support to children’s ministries and then criticize the sincere efforts of others when they don’t meet our expectations. Or, like the first son, we don’t volunteer to support children’s programs, but then decide to jump in and get going. Which attitude and action supports the growth of young children into Christ’s love, and which attitude and action discourages and belittles those who are doing their best to bring young children into Christ’s love?
I am thankful that my mother called me to task that day. She clearly stated her disappointment in my attitude and spurred me on to positive action. I think Jesus was doing the same in the parable. Neither son was obedient, nor doing what they should be doing without having to be told. However, the son who was negative but then did the work was at least doing something for the father, while the son who sounded positive but didn’t do anything was useless to the father. Even if we initially are uninterested or complain about things at church, we may find our way eventually to be useful, if we can adjust our attitude and action.