Work so God Can Use Me
Philippians 4:1-9 / Matthew 21:33-43
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

In our gospel today, we are reminded that while the earthly landlord is away, God’s abundance is still present because God is the true landlord of all creation. While the tenants were squandering opportunity, God’s signs were overlooked, and the harvest was neglected. Jesus’s parable speaks to how the tenants forgot when the landlord was gone that they were not the owners of the land and its produce, it still belonged to the landlord who owned it and created it.

Like the landlord in the parable, God sent his own Son to redeem the tenants of his land, and they killed him, too.

Being irresponsible and ignorant to the fact they did not own the land created and the harvest it produced, the tenants committed horrible acts, even committed murder overlooking God’s care and harvest in the vineyard. They forgot that although the landlord wasn’t visible, everything still belonged to the landlord, and the tenants were there to care for and work for the landlord.

Similarly, although there seems there is no landlord here for this congregation, or permanent called pastor, there is still work to be done. God remains the true leader with the mission for us to carry on what is honorable, just, pure, pleasing, and commendable. Indeed, whatever is worthy of praise.

Sometimes we struggle together, and other times we rejoice together. In all instances, God is present with a bountiful harvest waiting to be shared.

We often find ourselves with the “sky is falling” attitude, rather than remembering that we are not to worry about anything, rather in everything give prayer and supplication with thanksgiving as we guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Now, I will be the first to admit that sometimes this can be a difficult task as we watch the horrors before us going on in the world. When it looks as if evil will rule the world and stop at nothing to gain power to continue in evil. The images are hard to remove from the mind.

Yet in the midst of the horror, where do you see work that is good? Work that is honorable and commendable? Could it be in those who are embarking on rescue? Could it be those who are aiding the wounded? Is it in those praying for others to bring comfort and peace? Where in the horror do we see God’s mission of goodness and love?

If we think back on another gospel we find in Luke, Jesus encourages his disciples on how to accomplish their mission. There are explicit instructions not to carry a bag or anything that would slow them down. Why? God provides everything they need to get the work done.

Jesus reminds them that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, and Jesus asks them to ask of the Lord to send out workers into his harvest.

As we continue our thoughts on stewardship, let us remember that a good steward works for the harvest to produce the fruit to continue the mission of God.

Peter tells us, “each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10).

Matthew reminds us that God gives all talents according to their abilities, and when we use them, fruit of the Lord is produced for the glory of God. (Matthew 25:14-30).

In her book, “A Little Spot of Giving,” Diane Alber shares an encouraging story about sharing in generosity. She writes in the simpliest of terms that a child can understand that I’d like to share with you:

“I’m a little Spot of Giving! I’m here to show you how to give the most amazing gifts!”
“These aren’t just ordinary gifts. These gifts have the power to spread kindness.”
“Giving a gift of helping. If your neighbor has a hard time doing something, offer to do it for them.”
“Giving a gift of teaching. Help someone learn something new.”
“Giving a gift of friendship. Say hi to someone you have not played with before.”
“Giving a gift of advice. Offer help and guidance to someone who needs it.”
“Giving a gift of listening. Pay attention when someone is talking.”
“Giving a gift of love. Make something from the heart and give it to someone special.”
“Giving a gift of time. Spend quality time with someone you care about and focus on them.”
“Giving a gift of empathy. When someone is sad, be a shoulder for them to cry on and an ear to listen.”
“Giving a gift of hope. Offer positive words of encouragement when someone is feeling down.”
“Giving a gift of teamwork. Working together can help you accomplish more and make tasks easier.”
“Giving a gift of nature. Plant a tree or garden.”
“Giving a gift to the earth. Throw away your trash and help keep the planet clean.”
“Giving a gift of appreciation. Say thank you to someone who helped you today.”
“Giving a gift of volunteering. Find a charity or food drive to help others in need.”
“Giving a gift of generosity. Be thankful for what you have and look for ways to go above and beyond to share.”
“Giving a gift of sharing. If you have more than you need, offer to give some away to brighten someone’s day.”
“Giving a gift of joy. If you have outgrown your toys, give them to children who don’t have any.”
“Now that you have seen the power of giving…What gift are you going to give today?”

To be a good steward just takes a little spot of giving.
When we get up each day, are we asking ourselves, “What good shall I do today?” For many, it comes easy and natural because some are born with a gift to give, yet for others, it may seem more difficult when we become overwhelmed with sadness or what is going on in the world around us, and we don’t even know where to begin to save the world.

As in the parable, the world is not ours to save, we are only the tenants who have been called to work the fields to produce the good harvest. How do we do this? By being good laborers. We have it within us to use the gifts God has provided to us to use to get the work done, to produce favorable fruit, if we just choose to use the gifts.

There are those who focus inward to themselves and not outward to helping others, only realizing their own needs rather than those around them. There is nothing wrong with making sure you and your family are taken care of, yet sometimes we work more for “things” than we do for the mission of God. We work more for things that we no longer need before helping others who are in need. I’ve been guilty of this myself.

As good stewards, we work on giving of ourselves….our time, our money, and our talents because it brings joy, even at times when it is not obvious in the moment. Giving brings glory to God, and we can rejoice in knowing that we can give individually and together as a team to further God’s mission.

I’ve shared with you many times that you are a giving church family, and I stand by that.
However, sometimes we feel that we have done enough or that we are doing enough, yet God sends us to the vineyard again and again so that fruit can be produced and harvested.

We may grow weary at times when we can’t see the fruit being produced before us, yet we must have faith, that as long as we are planting and tending the seeds of the fruit that align with God’s mission to do and dwell on what is honorable and just, what is pure, and pleasing, what is commendable and worthy of praise, then truly, we are producing just those things that are good.

So each day when we get up, and we have that cup of coffee in the morning, maybe we can ask ourselves, “What good shall I do today?”
you, and sustain you. Amen.

*Cover Art used with subscription; Unsplash+.