Kingdom Principle: The Purpose of Peace & Prosperity is to give it away.
Want More Peace & Prosperity? Giving it away is the only way to increase what you currently have….
|Exodus 16:2-15||Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45||Philippians 1:21-30||Matthew 20:1-16|
Jesus redefines the concept of minimum wage in the Kingdom Parable of Matthew 20:1-16… but Jonah lived this long before, and Paul preaches this long after… the same answer appears in very different expressions:
God is Generous – has given his servants abundance (peace & prosperity) to give away to others!
The problem that most of us encounter is not that God is lacking or that God does not give in abundance, rather it is that God does not give according to our expectation. (This was Jonah’s dilemma – he didn’t think Nineveh deserved abundance.) The workers in the parable do not have a problem with the land owner contracting them at the given wage – the problem emerges when they lose their peace over the expectation that “it is not fair” they worked harder therefore they deserve more.
The dangerous buzz words that we all must steer clear of are: expectations and deserve. When we are focused on what we think we deserve – we must understand the power of the “De” as it has a latin root – which denotes the going out, departure, removal, or separating of an object from any fixed point, which denotes a mere external departure, and ex (“out of”) which signifies from the interior of a thing. Therefore to focus on what we deserve… is to move us away from or depart from serving (de serve) in any manner at all. But this is just a fun word play – the parable gets to the heart of the matter, and Paul captures this theological truth in ways that ought to rock our world and our understanding of life and death.
Paul has abundant peace. The Parable’s landowner has abundant prosperity. Israel lost their peace and their prosperity therefore God had more to give to them… We are often comfortable with the concept of God having more to give US – but when it comes to giving other we like to use the deserve word again…. So let’s look at our own lives and how this impacts our thinking and living:
First: Would you rather work for 12 hours or 1 hour and get paid the same wage?
The beauty of the parable is that those who worked 12 hours agreed on a wage, while those who worked 9 Hours or as few as 1 did not. So – the expectation of the 12 hour worker was actually set – and it was their understanding of what they deserved in comparison (another dangerous word) to what others worked which caused all the dissension. But at the end of it all most will choose 1 hour of work.
Second: Would you rather live a long life (filled with peace & prosperity) or go to be with Jesus now?
The promise of a long life with the benefits of prosperity and health (peace) are quite enticing for most but the reality is that these 2 questions move you us in unique directions that actually compete with our understanding of the gospel. Most will choose the long life with peace and prosperity – but as I just was saying the questions are in conflict, for to choose the long life with peace and prosperity is to also choose to work for 12 hours rather than getting more for less. Here’s how:
When you consider the first questions we are looking at what we can get. We have been trained by this world to desire to get more for less. (It is so hard not to super-size when it’s Free!) The second question focuses our attention at what we already have. The answers to these questions will reveal our understanding or lack of understanding of our purpose. When you discover the purpose of life is “to live is Christ” (a “WITH” not “for” concept) both questions have very easy answers; my God is generous to give me work regardless of wage and I choose life regardless of peace or prosperity.
Since the purpose of your work is to be an act of worship and the purpose of your life is to bring glory to God, we need not worry about choosing life or death nor 12 hours or 1… we are to be grateful to have 1 hour and more grateful to have 12. We are to be grateful to have life and more grateful to have eternity after this life has passed.
The Father has an abundance of both peace and prosperity which he longs to give to his servants. But the King is neither shy nor secretive about the test for both peace and prosperity. For God provided in abundance to the Israelites in the desert, but the test revealed their hearts. The test moves us from entitlement to enlightenment. This movement is one we all must make if we are ever to have peace and prosperity together. And I remind you that peace and prosperity are marks of the Kingdom. Therefore we must pass the test to fully enjoy the Kingdom which is being given to us.
Entitlement is captured by words – deserve, comparison, and expectations
Enlightenment is captured by words – mercy, compassion, and expectancy (grace)
Enlightenment moves us to Seek Peace & to Redefine prosperity.
To seek peace in the Kingdom is to release my control over the outcomes of my efforts. To release my pursuit of prosperity is not to become lazy or indifferent, rather because of my pursuit of peace which surrenders the outcome to God, I find new measures of prosperity in all my work. It is not about a paycheck – it is about a relationships. It is not about a return on investment – it is about an exchange of life and lessons learned. Pursuing peace can even decrease my need for prosperity altogether.
When the Lord provided the Manna for the Israelites, it was daily bread so that they would remain dependent on God and increase their peace to know that he will provide. This peace was essential key to entrance into the Promised land (prosperity). As Paul stated, “for him to live is Christ and die is gain,” he is proclaiming the peace he has in life, that his life is not his own. And for the sake of others and their peace and prosperity it is better that he remains in their lives.
Paul gives us 3 defining marks of those who know their purpose:
- They Stand firm in the Spirit as one body. (It is going to take many workers – both weak & strong)
- They Strive for the Salvation of others. (There is one Gospel, get on board early and work hard)
- They’re Steadfast in Suffering as Christ. (Releasing expectation of control/ Realizing Peace & Prosperity)