Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Matthew 20:1-16

But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

More thoughts for meditation

Discernment is about a sensitivity to the many ways God’s goodness shows up. Just like the person of discerning tastes has a greater sense of the subtleties of flavor in a glass of wine, so our spiritual discernment gives us a greater sense of the “flavor” of God. Here the similarities end, because whereas expertise seems to rob the expert of enjoyment of the thing they are becoming expert in, those who gain a taste for the ways of God only find an increase in joy and appreciation of all things. This is because Joy or Goodness is itself the flavor of God. If we turn our noses up at such things when they show up it will be hard to develop the taste for the things of God. And unlike wine, tasting God’s goodness does not dull our senses, but makes us able to taste and see all the better.

Knowing God brings about a change in the knower. It is impossible to know joy without somehow becoming more joyful. It is impossible to know generosity without becoming generous. This I suppose was the problem for the workers in the parable. To accept the meal of generosity that the owner of the vineyard was offering would have required a change of heart on their part. They would have needed to stop eating the food their ego was giving them – all the stuff about what is deserved, what is fair, and what they ought to be getting. Those little self-consolatory morsels are so sweet that real Food tastes bland in comparison at first. Those morsels have no substance though and only leave us feeling sick. God gives us His own love as food, and it has real transforming power. It not only is good, but it makes us good and helps us see a world that holds a banquet of goodness.

Suggestions for action

Yesterday I suggested writing down a situation or decision that are seeking discernment on. As you pray about it, take some time to get the flavor of God in your mouth. Who is this God who is calling you? Does He seem far off, stingy, or impassive? Close and tender? Pray for a greater sense of His bountiful goodness, and the wholeness that He is calling you toward. 

Tomorrow is Hudson Taylor Day. Enjoy this creative and controversial missionary to China at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.