If we belong to the Lord then who we are, what we are, what we own, what we do all belongs to God.
And when we try and take any of that back for ourselves, when we try and live as if we own it; or that it is our accomplishment; then we have crossed a boundary and we will struggle.
James 1:17 says Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
As Christians every blessing we have comes from the Lord; every gift, every ability, every insight comes from him.
God is not against success and wealth. Of course not. But to whom should we attribute our success and wealth to and how should we use our success and wealth?
When we begin to live as if it is all about us, that we are ones who have made it happen, that we are in control, then we have crossed a boundary; we have missed the mark – which is to sin. The greek word sin means to miss the mark – it’s an archery term – miss the target is to sin. And we know that when we miss the mark we will enter conflict because God, who loves us so incomprehensibly, will try and correct that in us.
Jesus knew that as he told his parable, the religious leaders would think of Isaiah 5:1-7. And I believe Jesus wanted the religious leaders to consider the care in which God makes the vineyard. He wants them to realize that God provided everything that is needed. He planted it all. All the religious leaders had to do was cultivate it and reap the harvest. God had given Israel all that it needed.
And in the same way we need to realize that in his love and care for us God has given us all that we need to live this life.
And so when the vineyard produces wild or sour grapes – when the boundary is crossed then God will come and remove the walls in our lives, not to destroy us but to draw us back to him.
Remember – God never disciplines us for the sake of discipline – but always so that we will be lead back into the safe place – to return to with the boundary of his protection, love and guidance.
That is exactly what Jesus was doing with the religious leaders. He was giving them a warning. He was telling them that they were in danger and they needed to change. They had departed from the goal and they needed to re-focus on the goal.
And there are times when we all need to be reminded to re-focus back on the goal – to re-position our lives to the right direction.
Paul reminds us of that goal – he reminds us that the prize is Jesus Christ. Oh, what a prize!
In Phil 3:10 Paul actually defines exactly what the goal is:
My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.
Paul knew he was not perfect. He knew he had not reached the full goal yet, but his focus was always on Christ.
If everything we are and everything we have comes from God, from Christ, then we must live our lives focused upon him. He must become our goal. And when we do this we enter Christ’s boundary.
When we believed in Christ – when we declared him to be our Lord and savior, we asked him to be BOTH LORD and Savior. He not only rescues us – he becomes Lord of our life.
And he has given us the incredible promises of the Bible – we have become citizens in heaven. Our destiny is secured in Jesus. As the Gospel of John tells us – Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us; and he will come back to take us there. He has promised never to forsake us or leave us. He has promised to uphold us in times of trouble. He has sealed us in his holy spirit.
And as we live within the boundary of the Lord, when we know that everything is the Lord’s we will become a fruitful vineyard. The fruit of the Spirit in our lives does not come from what we DO – but from what Christ has done and is doing IN US. The fruit is the Lord’s work in us manifesting itself outward.
Israel was meant to be a blessing to the nations – and today the Church is also meant to be a blessing to the nations, the nations where there are so many who are in need of Jesus.
But when we cross physical and spiritual boundaries we become just like the tenants in the parable. Taking what is not ours.
And to take ones life, a life given by God, made in the image of God, to worship God, to take ones life and to try and live life outside the boundary God has established means we begin to lose sight of the goal and the prize and it will lead to conflict, strife, lack of peace and spiritual tension in our lives.
In and through the cross God has given all we need to live our life in Him. The stone the builder rejected – Christ Crucified – has become the chief cornerstone – Christ resurrected, everything rests on Him.
Jesus did all the work. He accomplished everything for us so that we can be right with God – not through our own effort, but by simply being IN Christ. Christ is our rock, our fortress, our strong tower, our boundary. When we remain in him, we have all we need – provided by God for us.
Let us be known as a people whose goal, whose prize is Christ Jesus. He is our Lord and our Savior. We recognize that all we have and all that we are is because of Jesus – because of his blessing on us; because of his incomprehensible love for us. Let our goal not change. Let our prize not change.
That is God’s heart of each of us – that is his desire for us. So when we do cross the boundary and the Lord disciplines us (remember Hebrews – only those who are sons and daughters are disciplined) and we return to God – we enter again the boundaries of the Lord and focus again on our goal – our prize – Jesus Christ.