“What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” (Matthew 21:28-31 RSV).
Jesus told this parable to illustrate the importance of doing God’s will. In the Bible, obedience does not refer to the intent of one’s heart or their good desires. Obedience, which is doing God’s will, is about action.
Our modern Christianity often spiritualizes the Bible unnecessarily, even to our detriment. Moreover, we tend to relegate behaviors to emotions and feelings. The biblical world viewed obedience as action: Love is an action, faith is an action, hope is an action. Emotions do not capture them. Feelings do not express them. Doing does.
The first son had no intention of helping his father, but he changed his mind. The second son had the right intention but did not act. Which did the will of the father? The first son. Why? Because he acted.
Living according to God’s will means acting according to God’s will. It means doing the will of the Father. Jesus places our obedient response and action as the key to entering the kingdom of Heaven—His movement—here and now. Our purpose as followers of Jesus is to pursue obedience to the will of the Father in all we do.
At the same time, we need to make sure that we call people to action. Repentance is an action in the Bible, not a feeling. Our behavior displays our repentance. The first son repented by obeying his father’s will. We do the same.
Let our actions mark us as doers of God’s will. May we purse being children who do the will of their Father.
Father, we confess our desire to do Your will in all we do and say today. May our obedience glorify You. Amen.