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What might grudging look like in us?
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Listen Now to “Begrudge”. Click here. 

Recorded for us are two parables of Jesus that deal with someone begrudging someone else.  In the “Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11-32), the older brother begrudges the welcome given to his returning brother.  And in the “Laborers in the Vineyard” (Matthew 20:1-16), those hired early begrudge those hired later, for getting the same pay.

Both of these have characters who think they deserve more than somebody else.

This isn’t the only instance where we have more than one parable addressing an issue.  But it seems to me that if Jesus bothered to develop multiple lessons about something, it’s probably important.  Of course they’re all important, but you see what I mean.

What might grudging look like in us?

What the Lord is saying to us is, “Take a look at yourself, and be honest enough to recognize that you have the capacity to be grudging toward someone else.”  We like to fool ourselves into thinking that surely I don’t have that problem.  The doubled lesson, I think, cautions us not to be so smug.

If we do take a look at ourselves, what might grudging look like in us?  We might, such as in the first parable, feel like someone else is “getting away with” leading an immoral life in spite of knowing better—only coming around late in their life.  Whereas we’ve struggled from an early age to live faithfully and obediently.  Would we ever feel like that?

Or we might, such as in the second parable, feel like we’re working harder, giving more time, and so on, than someone else.  And they seem to be admired even though they do little.  Would we ever feel like that?

Or we might begrudge someone who doesn’t have the family problems, the health problems, the financial problems that we have.  Someone who hasn’t had to uproot their lives and become a refugee.  Someone who has a supporting family and church.  Someone whose life is full of nice things.  When we stop to really think about it, our capacity to begrudge is almost limitless.

We don’t like thinking we could have this problem.  And maybe we don’t!  Not all of us have the same spiritual weaknesses.  But, Jesus says, take a look.  See if there’s anything like this going on in your heart.

What do we do if we find this problem is lurking there?  Jesus gives us the answer.  (Of course he does!)  Instead of the grudging feeling of the older son, we have the counsel of the father: be happy for that other person!  Welcome them, as he does.  And instead of the grudging feeling of those who worked hard all day, we have the counsel of the vineyard owner—recognize no wrong has been done to us, and be thankful for having such a generous boss!

We may find we have to forgive.  Forgive someone for having things easy.  Forgive them for doing less.  Forgive them for being forgiven by the Lord.  And instead be glad for having such a generous Father, for having such a generous Lord.

Love, Paul


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