Beware of mercenary motives

Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (from Wikimedia Commons)
Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (from Wikimedia Commons)

But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. Mt. 19:30; 20:16, 25-28

God is generous: his mercy reaches to the heavens and he sovereignly grants his mercy to the least deserving. This is the lesson of our text. Which means that we should beware of serving God from mercenary motives. We should beware of the attitude that says to God, “I have done this for you; what shall I get in return?” Such a question betrays a fundamental ignorance of God and what he has done for us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It displays an ignorance of God’s sovereign grace. It elevates the merit of our efforts and displays a mistrust and misunderstanding of God’s goodness and generosity. To guard against such attitudes we should therefore constantly look to the cross and see the greatest gift that could possibly have been given to men: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). “What more could God have given, tell me, what more did he have to give?” (Michael Card).

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that while the disciples worried about their places in the future kingdom, whether Peter asking what they would get for their sacrifices (Mt. 19:27), or James and John seeking a place of preeminence in the future kingdom (Mt. 20:20-28), that wedged in between these two accounts our Lord foretells for the third time his sacrificial death (Mt. 20:17-19). Their questions were all wrong, because they had not yet seen the significance of the cross of Christ. Their reward was sure and their reward was great because it was to be purchased by the ransom of the Son of God (Mt. 20:28). Even so, all who follow Christ, all who embrace him by faith, are the recipients of infinite grace and boundless mercy. We are the inheritors of God himself (Rom. 8:17). Away then, with mercenary motives and idols of mammon! Let us cling to Christ and may he draw our hearts ever closer to his!

By: Jeremiah Bass