PRYOR, OK —
Jesus told an interesting story in Matthew 21:28-30. He said that a man who had two sons told his first son to go work in his vineyard. The son told his father that he would not do it, but he later repented and went. The father also told his other son to go work in his vineyard. This son said that he would, but he did not go.
Then Jesus asked which son did the will of his father. The answer, of course, was the first, the one who said he would not go, but who later changed his mind and obeyed. Then, Jesus made a shocking statement to his religious audience. He told them that tax collectors and harlots would enter the kingdom of God before they would.
Jesus wanted them to understand that it is not enough just to profess Christianity. Actions speak louder than words. Many who claim to follow Christ do not follow Him at all. We must practice what we preach. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” In other words, it is not enough to simply call Jesus our Lord; we must submit to Him as Lord if we want to be saved.
In Matthew 15:8, Jesus said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” Many who claim to follow God’s way fail to obey Him. Their words say one thing, but their actions say another. Again, actions speak louder than words. Paul wrote in Romans 2:13, “For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.”
From Jesus’ story, we learn that people are not always what they appear to be. At first, some people appear to be worse than they really are, just like the first son. These individuals may initially seem to be rebellious. And like the first son, they may even say they will not obey. But after thinking about it, they repent and obey.
Other people appear to be better than they really are, just like the second son. They claim that they will do right, but they fail to follow through with good actions. Notice what Paul wrote in Titus 1:16: “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.”
Jesus shows in His story that people do not have to stay the way they are. God would not be happy with a rebel, a dishonest tax collector, or an immoral person like a harlot. But they can repent. They can change. And that is what the Lord wants. In Matthew 9:13, Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” In Luke 13:3-5, Jesus shows that everyone needs to repent.
Remember that all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). However, we are told in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God saw us at our very worst and still loved us enough to give His Son for us.
But no one should stay in sin and rebellion to God. Those who have had a bad start in life do not need to be slaves of their past. Paul was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and even called himself the chief of sinners. But he later became a great Christian.
But good intentions that are not put into action are worth very little. It is not enough to just claim that Jesus is Lord. He asks in Luke 6:46, “But why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things which I say?” It is hypocritical to refer to Jesus as Lord, unless one is willing to submit to Him. Don’t just claim to obey God. Put your words into actions. Study the Bible to learn what His will is, and then obey Him!