“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”
I’m sure most of us can relate to this parable. Sometimes we agree to do something, but never follow through. Other times we say “no” initially, but after some thought and perhaps a little bit of regret, we change our minds and join the team, so to speak. Jesus values repentance, not false enthusiasm.
I wonder why we struggle with things like this? I know why I do. It’s my pride. On one side I want to be seen as a person who really cares and is willing to do something about it. “I’ll pray for you” or perhaps, “Just let me know when I can help.” On the flip side I want to live by my agenda, doing the things I want to do without much regard for the needs around me. It’s all Steve, all the time.
Sadly, I know what I’m doing at the precise moment I’m doing it. I know when I’m making a commitment I probably won’t fulfill, and I know when I should say “yes” but in my selfishness, I say “no.” Sin is not a complex issue. Do it or don’t do it. There really isn’t any more to it than that.
In this case, and to Jesus’ point, it’s best to do what is right in the first place, but even if you don’t, Jesus values true repentance because it shows Him that you are willing to turn from your sin and follow His lead. It shows Him that you love Him and value the relationship. Additionally, it shows Him that you understand “the second greatest commandment” to love others as you do yourself.
Talk is cheap and Jesus knows that better than any of us. Can you imagine hearing all of the prayers (and promises) we put up? Yikes! Thankfully, Jesus continues to offer us the olive branch of peace, love and forgiveness…despite all of our false starts and lack of care and concern for things other than ourselves. Remember: He LOVES us more than we can possibly imagine! He is saddened by our sin, but overjoyed by our repentance. Admit your guilt and turn to the path He calls you to…and let’s all work to say what we mean, mean what we say, and turn from the sin that so easily ensnares us.