What’s our challenge?
I think the parable challenges us to see ourselves as God's vineyard, we are God's vineyard, that means that your life is not your own. You belong to God, you are precious to God, you are the object of his attention and affection because you are his vineyard.
This parable shows us that God's desire for your life is that it would be fruitful, fruitful in every sense, but especially in that sense of bearing fruit like joy and peace, what the Apostle Paul in Galatians calls the fruit of the Spirit. That is God's desire for your life.
There's a challenge for all of us in those areas that we lead, whether it be a team, or a family, or a classroom, or a business or city or a nation. There's a challenge the people we lead, they're not ours, they're not there for our benefit. They are Gods, they belong to Him, they are precious to him, he loves them deeply more than we could ever love them, it is not your vineyard.
And actually, that's an incredible relief.
I remember when I was teaching and there was the really annoying kid in class who'd be so disruptive. They would make silly noises or poke the kid next to him, and I’m about to lose it and blow my top but then I would just say to myself, “John, That boy is loved by God. He is precious to God, he belongs to God.” And that would completely change my emotional response to that kid, and therefore my behaviour/
In all those things that we lead, the goal is to lead those who have been entrusted to us, those we've been called to steward into fruitfulness.
I think the parable also challenges us to consider how we respond to difficult people, like those prophets of old who put us in our place who gives up when requested feedback and criticism? Will we be humble enough to listen, to repent, to course-correct our thinking? Or will we silence them and ignore them?
I said at the start of the parable that these stories are designed to provoke a response to discriminate, we can either think well, “Nice story, Jesus, thanks for that today, John.” and then move on and get on with our lives. Or we can engage with the story. And we can work out where we are in the story and what that means for us today.
And so I pray for each of us as we listen today that you would actually hear God's speaking into your heart, leading you into his truth. And I pray that your vineyard, your life, those things that you lead would be incredibly fruitful and that you would lead them into joy and peace and all of the fruit that God's Spirit brings.