Thanks For the Gift Matthew 20:1-16
It’s great to be given a gift, isn’t it? Or is it? What if it’s a puppy and you’re
not ready for the food and vet bills, the exercising and training that goes with owning a dog? And the receiver is placed under obligation to the giver, for example: you receive a gift and then feel the need to reciprocate in some
way. We know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. There’s an uneven
power balance between giver and receiver. The choice lies with the giver.
Even if hints are given, the receiver has to accept what someone else has
Maybe that is why people have trouble with the grace of God. They have to
accept that they are not in charge; they have to accept whatever they are
given. They are under obligation to use the gift of life, and all other gifts,
properly. If salvation is by grace, then it is not to be looked upon as a reward for services rendered.
In the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, Jesus made it clear that life
at its best, life lived in the love and grace of God, is a gift. Heaven is not a
reward for services rendered; it is a gift. People who approach it in terms of
wages will be disappointed. Instead of trying to win heaven as a reward in
the future, let’s live the life of heaven now, as far as it is possible, with
gratitude and joy. Enjoy the gift of life; enjoy the gift of new life in Christ.
• Think of examples of the power imbalance between giver and
receiver. When has receiving a gift placed you under an obligation
to the giver?
• List some of the gifts have you received from God.
• If salvation is a gift, why do people think that they have to earn it?
• How can we best show our appreciation for God’s gift of new life
Rev Ron Potter - piulapublications.com
CONFLICT RESOLUTION Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20
Conflict. Publishers love it. It sells books, makes for interesting broadcasts, heightens dramatic effect, increases loyalty, underlies much sport and competitive activity, can be creative and lead to new understandings and ideas. We are not all the same, and it is in the bumping up against one another that we mature and widen our outlook.
But it can be destructive. Our picture of heaven is of a realm without conflict, a form of existence where, under God, everyone integrates harmoniously together.
Conflict can breed suspicion, hatred, violence. It is often synonymous with war.
It tears families, communities, nations apart. It damages the effectiveness of a team or the profits of a company. So, conflict-resolution becomes an important concern in all areas of social activity – families, sporting teams, political parties, companies, organizations, and in the church.
According to Matthew, Jesus gave his strategy for conflict resolution:
(1) face up to the issue and seek to resolve it with the other party one-toone as soon as possible,
(2) seek the help of a third, independent party or group,
(3) if these steps haven’t been successful, involve the whole membership in making a decision,
(4) finally, if every attempt at reconciliation has failed, accept the situation and both go your separate ways. At least that’s my attempt at putting Matthew 18:15-20 into today’s context.
Through it all, the Spirit is saying, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.” (Romans 13:8).
Love of one’s opponent or enemy (in the sense of respect, concern, readiness to help) is basic to Christ’s teaching (Matthew 5:43-48).
• Give some instances where conflict makes for an interesting story or news
item, increases team loyalty or widens one’s outlook.
• Why is conflict resolution important?
• What happens if we do not follow step (1) above?
• What relevance do verses 18 to 20 in Matthew 18 have to verses 15-17?
Rev Ron Potter - piulapublications.com
A Greek Word For Your Mind:
Meet the Grace Family!
This month I'd like to introduce you to the “Grace Family”. Just as in human families we have relatives, so it is with word families. Word relatives are called “cognates” and share the same underlying literary genetics, or fundamental meaning. However, it may have a number of
It may come as a surprise to know that the fundamental root word underlying the whole “grace family” is the word chairo, “to rejoice, be glad” (74 times in our New Testament)! One of the first occurrences is Matt. 2:10 where the shepherds “rejoiced exceedingly” when they heard the good news. It became a common form of greeting, “Chaire!” or “Hail” but literally “Joy to you!” (Luke 1:28; Matt 27:29. See Matt 5:12, Phil 4:4, Rev 19:7 for more examples). A closely related word, charitoo (only 2 times in NT) was also a greeting “(You are) highly favoured”, that is to be
fully “graced” or accepted (e.g Mary, Luke 1:28; all Christians, Ephes 1:6). To know God's favour
represents the highest possible level of acceptance.
By far, the best-known related word is charis or “grace” (156 times in the NT). Basically, one could say that to give “grace” is to give another abundant joy, to “en-grace” them! This “grace” may have various dimensions:
1. “graciousness, attractiveness, charm”, i.e. bestow grace by speaking beautiful words (Luke 4:22). A gracious person is one of attractive, kindly and generous character. No wonder Charis makes for such a beautiful name!
2. “favour, gracious care, help”,i.e. a voluntary act of kindness toward another, either unexpected or undeserved (Acts 11:2, Rom 3:24, 2 Tim 1:9.) Passively, it meant to be the recipient of such favour.
4. “thanks, gratitude” for what has been received (Luke 17:9, Heb. 12:28). One has simply put it: G-R-A-C-E = God's Riches At Christ's Expense. Yes, amazing!
Another sibling in the Grace family is charizomai (23 times in the NT). This means to “be gracious to another, to bestow kindness or favour on them” (Luke 7:21), to “grant deliverance to another” (Acts 3:14, Rom 8:32), and finally “to forgive” (Luke 7:42, 43, 2 Cor 2: 7, 10, Eph. 4:32, Coloss 2:13,
3:13). In other words, “to forgive” is to release another person from guilt, giving them a deep sense
of joy and peace.
However, the most interesting of all is eucharisteo (verb, 39 times in NT) and eucharistia (noun, 15 times), literally “to have good grace”, and usually translated as “thanksgiving”.
The epitome of grace is gratitude, deep thankfulness for what God has given or has been received from another!
It is not surprising that this word occurs at the heart of the Last Supper feast where Jesus gave thanks for bread and wine, representing his giving of Himself. So significant is this that every one of the four Gospels records it. (Matt 26:27, Mark 14:23, Luke 22:17, 19, John, and 1 Cor. 11:24.)
The “Eucharist” is essentially a Thanksgiving Feast, which focuses on the very heart of our faith, the gift of Grace which is in Christ. So then, we are urged to give thanks in every situation, for we know that God's abundant Grace undergirds all that we have and are! (Ephes 5:20,
Coloss 3:17, 1 Thess 5:18).
Eucharistia! May the God of all Grace fill you with abundant joy!
Rev Graham Warne
PS There is one other member of the family charisma (sing) and charismata (plural), “spiritual
gift/s”, but this is a study in itself!