Beware of Self – Incrimination
The one pound servant knew what his master would do! And yet, he still disobeyed and failed to do it. At one time, I too did agree to serve; however, I was lured away to greener pastures. At the time my conscience was asleep, but when my spirit, within me, was struck with guilt, I apologized. I received no confirmation, but my conscience is still hunting me seventy years later. By nature, and without the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and even Christ, we know when we do what is right and what is wrong (Genesis 3:22; James 4:17).
What Does Our Scripture Tell Me?
In simple every day diction, I am told to let my conscience guide me and help others. By obeying my conscience, I keep my eyes on what I do. And I learned that Jesus and his disciples’ teaching do assist my conscience. I do trust my conscience and it daily benefits me, in my faith and in my work.
All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have a law. They show what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus (Romans 2:12-16).
And Jesus says:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they would persecute you; if they kept my word. they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It is to fulfil the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’ But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from theFather, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning (John 15:18-27).
You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness of me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men. But I know that you have not the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receives glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do you think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words? (John 5:39-47).
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased,” we heard this voice borne from heaven for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (II Peter 1:16-21).
My Words and Even my Tongue Bind me to my Conscience
One time, while I was a student trying to qualify for the university with a twenty dollar allowance for the month, I attended a revival meeting. It was in the beginning of the month, and the clever evangelist had me put my meal ticket on his offering plate. He made us take out our wallets and hold it up; then he said, “Show that you love the Lord more than your largest bill in your purse or wallet. Imagine what that did to me when I parted with my daily bread. This man did not exactly employ Jesus’ method. It also taught me to slow down, perhaps too much, on making any promises. Does God grade us by how much we give, as we do? Jesus’ brother, James had his fill of partiality, and so should we.
“Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. ANd do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply, ‘Yes’ or “No’; anything more than this comes from evil” (Matthew 5:33-37).
Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your ams may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Pray than like this: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be one, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’ (Matthew 6:1-13).
My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man with a gold ring and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “Have a seat here, please,” whale you say to the poor man, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not make distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you, is it not they who drag you into court? It is not they who blaspheme the honorable name which was invoked over you? (James 2:1-7).
What Happened “to Abide as Agreed?”
In one place, I had to terminate my ministry where the agreement was not fulfilled, and I had to shorten my ministry for other reasons that were not so cordial; however, I have been called back to two Churches. I had no set terms for any of my services; nevertheless, I am troubled when good hearted employers and providers are forced, by the government, to submit to the demands of labor, at the cost, which closes down the provider’s ability to operate. Why act surprised when manufacturers close down and move elsewhere? Why can we not operate our earthly kingdom in a similar way, as Jesus did for His Heavenly Kingdom? Why not take a hint from Matthew 20:1-16? It might help our conscience and revive a declining economy, which feeds the people of this and any other nation.
For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no none has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last (Matthew 20:1-16).
What Is Grace Like?
Describing “grace” is a mental exercise. However, to apply grace — grace is a way of living. To me, the householder in Jesus’ parable was and is an example of true and active grace. I have been through such a time. The war had made us destitute and homeless. We were among strangers with no income. So we made things we could sell and no one would buy, locally. Someone let my father use a bicycle and a cart. We put all the things we made in the cart and my father drove off to a city, which was more than ten kilometers away. Father came back late with joy in his eyes. After stopping at many stores, one merchant saw in our father’s face the desperate need to feed his family, and he took everything and paid our father more than he had asked. A year later, we went back to thank the man, and there in his window were our toys, which we had made, still for sale. By then, they were more like a memorial to a needy family and an example to a merciful man.
The householder, in addition to being fair, generous, and a man of his word, he also was compassionate. He, himself, went out looking for people that might need help. There were workers that were not hired and they too had hungry families. This man went out six times and agreed to pay them all one denarius. He knew that he was generous and that he had the right to be so. Instead of being thankful to the householder for helping out their fellowmen, they were greedy and heartless, and forfeited their chance to work again for this man. Jesus used another parable to drive home the “lack of grace.”
Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, the lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servat released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart (Matthew 18:23-35).